These things take time
The judgment of a recent lead editorial will deserve careful consideration
I had intended to write this week about "Loveless," the lead editorial published last week about a fundraiser which apparently seemed to be - but now seems not to be - connected to the One Love Foundation, the charity formed to honor the memory of Yeardley Love, the University student and lacrosse player killed nearly two years ago. George Huguely, another University student and lacrosse player, was convicted in February of second-degree murder in Love's death. Huguely is scheduled to be sentenced for the crime next month.
The editorial - in case anyone associated with the University has not heard about it yet - criticized One Love for sponsoring a fundraiser at Boylan Heights which, according to the editorial, was promoted in an email promising Starr Hill Love beer and "'Lovely' shooters." When a woman is killed by a drunken man, the editorial suggested, it is just not right for the foundation created in her honor to use alcohol to raise money, particularly when the event is held where both the woman and the man who killed her reportedly drank often - and often to excess. Unfortunately for the newspaper and its credibility, One Love apparently was not sponsoring the event. It apparently did not even know about the event. The online version of the editorial begins this way now:
"Update: The Cavalier Daily printed an editorial in last Thursday's paper titled "Loveless," which criticized the scheduling of a bar night at Boylan Heights to raise money for the One Love Foundation, a charity established in honor of Yeardley Love. The Managing Board would like to offer a correction to the piece. Official spokespersons for One Love have indicated the organization had no knowledge of the Boylan Heights event prior to the editorial's publication and said it did not reserve the venue for Saturday. The Managing Board apologizes to the Love family and others involved in the One Love Foundation for any undeserved distress caused by the errors present in the editorial. The Managing Board also regrets that its oversight in not calling the One Love Foundation to verify what was presented as fact has distracted from what was intended to be a serious point about the problems of holding a drinking event to honor the memory of someone murdered by an abuser of alcohol."
The editorial had generated 48 comments by Sunday afternoon. That's 44 more than any other editorial The Cavalier Daily published last week. In fact, that is 44 more than all of the other editorials The Cavalier Daily published last week combined.
And yet, there is a lot left to say about "Loveless" and about the way people responded to it online.
One of the 48 comments ended this way: "...it sounds like bad judgement on both sides - the fundraiser focus and the coverage by the board with only an editorial.
I hope the CD's Ombudsman looks in to this one - it's a mess."
I agree. I do intend to look into this one. It is a mess. But I do not want to recommit some of the editorial's sins when I write about it. It would be easy to tear into the Managing Board for all the puns and silly word play in an editorial about so serious a subject. It would be easy to criticize the Managing Board for not doing the basic reporting which journalistic standards and common sense demand before launching an attack on anyone - particularly an attack on a charity created to honor a young woman brutally attacked and murdered. It would not be difficult to write something bemoaning the level the online discussion sometimes sank to. One gem says, in its entirety, "Hey jackass. Mind your own business."
Well, part of my business is to look at how The Cavalier Daily works, notice when it runs amok, try to explain why it happened and try to figure out how things could have been done better. There simply was not enough time to get that done in a responsible fashion between the editorial's publication and this column's deadline. So I plan to do something journalists do not do often enough. I'm going to wait until the research is done and the column is ready before I submit it for publication.
Feel free to email me if you want to say something about the paper or the charity. I prefer suggestions about how to do things better over explanations of why the paper or the charity is in the wrong, but you can send those, too, if you like.
Tim Thornton is the ombudsman of The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.