About that “Hate”

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So I promised at the end of our letters this week that I'd write a slightly longer blog post responding to URSU president Kyle Addison calling out an article we had in a previous issue. Addison has since posted a follow-up and – although it doesn't retract the serious charges that business manager Kent E. Peterson has a "hidden agenda" and that he's exclusively positive to causes he personally believes in – the new post took a bit of the wind out of my sails, mostly because Addison clarified that he had an ethical problem with what we'd run.

We appreciate his insight – we really do. But the Carillon staff has worked pretty hard this year to be an active voice on campus without being a divisive one, and that includes Kent. His work goes through the same channels as everyone else.

He wrote a piece on two political parties; the others he contacted did not reply to him in time to make deadline. It's not meant as a fluff piece – it's meant to get our readers aware of some of the big issues that we're gong to have to take a look at as the election draws nearer. We've tried this year to engage students on an extremely local level and, to some extent, on a civic level. Helping students at the U of R to make choices on a provincial level is, naturally, another goal. We'd love it if someone from one of the other parties running in this fall's provincial election would contact us. It'd give us a chance to make our readers aware of what they have to offer, too.

As for negativity – well, I don't know about that. Tuition is on the rise, as is (as URSU VP Student Affairs Tyler Willox reported at the last URSU board meeting) plagiarism. Parking congestion gets worse as transit-based solutions seem to languish in purgatory. At a time when our university's reputation on a national level is mid-range at best, the campus' five-year "Master Plan" is nowhere to be seen. And the school's set up the UR Guarantee program to help stem the tide of students who show up, don't get involved, and go home.

There's a lot to love about the University of Regina, sure, but there's also a lot that we can be upset about and we're entitled to be upset about. If we as students stay silent because we don't want to lower morale, fixes for our problems won't come. If we don't get engaged with the community around us, fixes for our problems won't come.

I dig Kid Cudi, but I've always been a Public Enemy man. Chuck D's nothing if not distrustful of power, and refused to back down from his radical beliefs. He also weathered being called "negative" fairly gracefully; what I've tried to do over dozens of words here, he did in under ten. And that quote sums up why we're not going to ask Kent or any of our contributors to avoid "negativity." There are discussions that ought to be had on campus, discussions geared toward making positive change. Avoiding criticism is no way to go about having them.

8 comments

  1. Mike Burton 3 February, 2011 at 20:51

    John,

    I agree with you that the Carillon staff has worked hard this year to be an active voice on campus without being a divisive one. I do have some questions about the channels that Kent's work went through.  My complaint with his article about the Sask. NDP wasn’t that he didn't write ones about the other parties. It was that it was a fluff piece written by a member of the Sask. NDP Provincial Executive. Kent Peterson is the elected Vice President of the Sask. NDP, not the youth wing, the entire party.  He literally sits on the executive with Dwain Lingenfelter and he is allowed to write a news story about that party… Sounds like a conflict of interest to me.
    Then Peterson allows Lingenfelter to talk about the policy development program without asking any questions about his sagging poll numbers, the membership scandal which is going to court from Lingenfelter's leadership campaign or why concerted efforts have been made to exclude former leadership rivals from seeking nominations (see Ryan Miley).
    Then Peterson allows Lingenfelter to repeat an insult towards Premier Wall.  This is followed by talk about Lingenfelter experience which is seen as a positive because there is not follow up about his record.  Did you know that tuition under the NDP between 1991 and 2004 went up 227%?  Most of that time Lingenfelter was an influential Minister.  It seems to me that a student paper interested in informing its readers about issues that were important to students would seek a comment from Mr. Lingenfelter on his, frankly, abhorrent record. 
    So my question is this.  Did the News Editor and the Editor-in-Chief not see it as a conflict of interest to have a Vice President of the Sask. NDP write an article informing people about the NDP? And secondly, should Kent have asked some tougher questions of the NDP Leader when he did have an interview with him?

  2. Mike Burton 3 February, 2011 at 21:55

    It has been pointed out to me that it's Ryan Meili and I stand corrected.  My apologizes to both Dr. Meili and any Ryan Miley's out there that I offended with this mistake. 

  3. John Cameron 2 March, 2011 at 15:48

    Mike,

    For me what it ultimately came down to was that we'd put the word out to other political parties and we'd intended to cover all of them in the same way. Larissa Shasko of the Saskatchewan Green Party actually returned emails and got an interview, and you'll notice that, tonally and structurally, it's similar to the article on the NDP. That was because that was how the article was pitched. It was meant to just be quick interviews with party leaders and introductions to them and their parties' platforms going into this fall's elections.

    Conflict of interest was an item that came up in discussing the appropriateness of the piece, and we came to the conclusion that so long as the articles weren't unfairly favourable toward one party and adhered to the same standards we'd expect of literally anybody else (e.g. delivering pieces that reflect what was actually said, and neither grinding a particular axe nor kissing any particular ass), then we wouldn't have a problem.

    Those standards don't go out the window on an article-by-article basis, and they weren't violated in either the NDP piece or the Green Party piece, so we ran them. Those two parties called back, and those two parties got exactly the piece – basic introductions to the party leaders and their platforms – that we'd aimed for.

  4. Red T 6 March, 2011 at 13:12

    You are surprised that the legitimate political opponents did not return messages from the NDP's Vice President for an interview? 
     
    Who is the ethics editor?

  5. John Cameron 6 March, 2011 at 18:19

    No, I'm at most mildly annoyed about political parties not calling back a campus newspaper. The only difference between Kent and any other reporter, in that context, was that Kent's political affiliations are openly stated. But like I said, so long as there wasn't any clear and visible bias in the resultant pieces, we determined there wouldn't be a problem. And of the two parties who called us back, that was the case. We're not going to apologize for people not returning our calls.

  6. Red T 7 March, 2011 at 13:47

    Maybe you just don't understand the situation John.  A Vice President from an opposing political party asks the opposition (who he personally has taken shots at for the past 3 years if you look at his track record via blogs, facebook, etc.) to sit down and allow him to interview them on policy for an article he is writing and you are surprised that he did not get a response?
     
    Firstly, did you consider that perhaps the opposition parties may percieve Kent as the VP of the NDP as opposed to a supposed objective reporter?  Even if Kent was able to remain objective how do you remove that perception, or were any efforts made to soothe concerns.
     
    Secondly, is there no other reporter on staff who could have taken on the project considering that Kent was clearly in a position of conflict (ie. writing a political column on the upcoming election when he is an elected member of one parties inner circle of power)? I just can't fathom how a responsible paper would allow Kent to pursue this, as opposed to assigning a non affiliated party member.
     
    You keep returning to 'they never returned the call', there is as likely a chance of them returning the call to Kent as there is the NDP returning calls to Rob Norris to sit down and allow him to prod their policy for an article he is writing for the paper.
     
    Come on John, don't be intentionally naive.

  7. Red T 7 March, 2011 at 13:50

    How can you expect a opposition parties to have any knowledge of what the resulting piece is going say in any event.  Especially since it is a political opponent that is writing it.  You can't spin this as a not returning calls to a campus paper, the reporter you selected for the project eliminate that out clause.  You picked a well known politically affiliated VP of one party to do the project.  
     
    Regardless of what may have been written, how could any party be sure.  And if they weren't happy would you have killed the piece? Or would you have declared freedom of the press and run it anyway?

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