Behold the hard-hitting, principled, serious newspeople of the Columbia Spectator, guided by the platonic ideals of independent journalism. Consummate professionals, they are. Just you try to dictate the terms of the newspaper’s coverage. You think that’ll work?
Actually, it probably will.
This week, the Columbia College Student Council Elections Board attempted to nix the Spectator’s endorsements for University Senate elections (for which voting is now underway). The board has strict policies proscribing any campaigning outside a certain window of time — from April 4 through 5 p.m. on April 10 — and the CCSC made very clear it intended to rigorously enforce those rules. Thus, the board demanded that any endorsement run by the Spec be published before the 5 p.m. deadline. Somehow, publishing anytime thereafter would amount to a violation of election rules on the part of the endorsed candidates (even though interviews were conducted during the campaigning period). The Spectator condemned the Elections Board’s attempted breach of its journalistic autonomy. And then, like the submissive children they apparently are, the Spec’s editors decided to accede to the CCSC’s demands.
As explained in an editorial:
For the University Senate elections, we endorse no one…A series of unfortunate events, due to policies imposed by the Columbia College Student Council Elections Board, made it impossible for Spectator to suggest candidates in the 2011-2012 election.
Seriously, Spec? The Columbia Student Council doesn’t have the authority to tell you to do jumping jacks, much less run (or not run) endorsements. So, why the hell did you give in? You at least had a good reason, right? Nope.
[The] Spectator’s independence could not shield the candidates themselves from potentially disastrous consequences, and that was a risk that we were not willing to take.
Know this: When confronted with absurd, empty threats, the Spectator’s editors will acquiesce, with little or no resistance. But they want you to know that they aren’t one bit happy about it!
We object on principle to the conception that Spectator—or any independent news outlet—should have to answer to a governing body. The Elections Board’s actions reflect a profound misunderstanding of the relationship between the press and political entities.
Surely the Elections Board is quaking in its boots. “Oh gosh! The Spec objects!”
Lucky for you, Columbia readers, IvyGate is perfectly comfortable taking the risk of issuing endorsements. That in mind, we’ve reviewed all the pertinent campaign literature, and will put our support behind two candidates: Chris Canales and Steven Castellano. We wholeheartedly encourage you to vote for Chris and Steve. Our rationale?
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