Executive Privilege

On behalf of the entire staff of The Tartan, we extend our warmest welcome to our new fellow students from the Gulf Coast. We hope that our community can offer you a friendly, comfortable, and engaging environment. (That said, we apologize in advance for November and December. It?s pretty rough.)
The human disaster that followed Hurricane Katrina touched everyone in this nation, and we will feel for some time the storm?s effects through friends and family who were directly affected and through our depressed economy.
Doubt and uncertainty are terrible feelings at any time, and when such a devastating event occurs, we all tend to search feverishly for information ? trying to feel more in control, more safe. This instinctive need for information makes comprehensive news coverage so important in perilous times. The Tartan?s editors recognized that need for information, publishing an online news brief last Tuesday. In this issue, we?ve expanded our coverage of Katrina?s effects on our campus. But we have not let other news events fall by the wayside, as some media sources have done recently. In Forum, the editorial board comments on its observation that cable television networks, in particular, failed to avoid ?tunnel vision? and neglected to report on other influential national and world events.
While this issue is focused on the hurricane?s aftermath, we?ve tried to avoid the pitfall of narrow-sightedness. Our news writers report this week on the heated debate among Pittsburgh officials, police, and local activists about Taser use and crowd control techniques among police officers. The news section also offers a review of the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist?s impact on higher education. In Pillbox, writer Janet Jay visits the website, questioning whether its message falls into the category of nouveau feminism or if it?s merely indie pornography.
This week we?ve taken a step in a different direction for The Tartan?s coverage. In recent years, this newspaper has limited itself to campus coverage. But there?s more to life than what happens on CMU grounds. As we broaden the scope of our coverage, however, we will keep campus news as a staple.
To that end, I have been working with members of student government as they develop a media policy that promises to protect our ability to cover events on campus. The push for a media policy was born out of an incident at last year?s controversial Shabazz lecture. Held in Porter Hall 100, the event was limited to 234 people. Throngs of people who lined up for the event were turned away; student media was their only link to the event. When Tartan photographers began to shoot photos, two guards from the New Black Panther Party threatened the journalists. When our photographers appealed to Abigail Cyntje, then president of SPIRIT, she altered her position and forbade the pair from taking any photos. In the following week?s Executive Privilege, Editor-in-Chief J.T. Trollman wrote, ?[W]hen SPIRIT?s organizers forbade The Tartan to take photographs, they blindfolded the entire student body ? and all future students who might one day peer back through the archives.... No student organization should have the ability to unilaterally exclude any student media organization from a student-sponsored and publicly advertised event.?
I applaud the efforts of student government to bring a media policy to fruition. We hope that the policy will affirm the students? right to an unimpaired media, so The Tartan and the other student media organizations can continue to bring them the news coverage to which they are entitled.