THIS, MY LAST column as The Cavalier Daily's ombudsman, originally was going to be a review of the numerous improvements made to the paper during the previous year. After all, they have been many: a revamped online edition, daily headlines sent to email inboxes, a broadened community focus, improved features sections and news coverage, and -- if you remember the paper before last September -- a clean, new layout.
Friday's paper, however, incited a number of reader comments that I believe need to be addressed before I hand over my byline to someone new. From the beginning of my term, I have attempted to hold the The Cavalier Daily and its writers to the highest level of journalistic integrity. News must be fair and impartial. Viewpoints must be well expressed and well researched. Above all, articles and stories must be accurate and, in all cases, display our commitment to finding and reporting the truth to the University community.
From the beginning, the paper and its staff have exceeded my expectations. The professionalism of The Cavalier Daily , its writers and the members of the two managing boards with whom I have worked always have impressed me. The poor judgment of a few should not be allowed to tarnish that reputation. It is for this reason, therefore, that I feel compelled to denounce the breach of professionalism, journalism and basic good taste displayed in Friday's paper.
Mike Greenwald's "article" on the re-colonization of Alpha Phi sorority ("New Chapter Unfolds: Through re-colonization, Alpha Phi replaces former reputation," Friday, April 21) was one of the clearest cases of poor editorial judgment, inadequate research and bias that, thankfully, I have seen in The Cavalier Daily. Its numerous transgressions are so pronounced that I did not need an inbox full of reader complaints to compel me to write. However, as always, I welcome the opportunity to air the views of the University community as well as my own.
The problem with biased reporting of this type is that it colors the newsworthy elements actually present in the story. Of course, it is also extremely embarrassing to anyone with a slightly enlightened and unchauvinistic viewpoint, but let's focus on the less obvious problems. The newsworthy part of what was meant to be a Life article is that the re-colonization of Alpha Phi has resulted in the successful formation of a new chapter at the University. The decision of its old members to step aside in favor of new leadership has led to a chapter with a strong membership, increased recruitment numbers and a new chapter house. If this had been all that was printed, I would have applauded Mr. Greenwald's efforts. Sororities at the University are often excluded, after all, from the paper's coverage of the Greek system (not being part of the never-ending spring fraternity rush conflict).
This, unfortunately, was not the case. Instead of interviewing former and current members of Alpha Phi (or even other sorority members) in an attempt to report the facts of Alpha Phi's re-colonization and success, Mr. Greenwald presented the views of select fraternity members. There are no interviews or quotes from the Alpha Phi alumnae still on grounds, no data on their activities or grades -- only rumors and jokes. Yet the members of the old Alpha Phi house aren't the only victims here. As one reader notes, "Printing this demeaning article puts The Cavalier Daily a step back in its commitment to aid the fraternity system because this article reveals the fraternities to be little more than panting little boys. More importantly, its misogynist tone alienates over half the University's population."
Why, you may well ask, was this article printed as written? I can only guess that the usually sound judgment of The Cavalier Daily's editors was colored by Mike Greenwald's previous success as a writer and former editor-in-chief. Some of the paper's most in-depth news reporting has been done by Mr. Greenwald. I can only hope we see more quality reporting in the future.
I have enjoyed serving as The Cavalier Daily's ombudsman during the past year and can only hope the new ombudsman receives the same support and open feedback from the paper and the University community. Thank you.