The Michigan Daily Thursday, February 2, 1989 Page 5
CBS panel to
represent 50,000 students?
BY BETSY ESCH
On Tuesday night, I had a lengthy
phone conversation with one of the
producers of the "CBS This Morn-
ing" show. At that time I was one of
four students invited to participate in
a panel discussion about campus life
which will be broadcast live from
our campus tomorrow morning. The
conversation I had with the producer
focused on every issue that the panel
will focus on- sex, gender roles,
our futures, racism etc.
He questioned me, in particular,
about my perspectives of racism on
campus and what he described as the
"changing" roles of women in soci-
ety. I responded by telling him that I
think this university is no different
than other institutions in this soci-
ety; that institutions like universi-
ties, newspapers, corporations are
motivated by the concerns of those
with the controlling interest and that
those people have historically been
and still are rich white men. I see
institutional change as vital to any
significant change in this society.
This questioning was done so that
he could "see where I was coming
from" in my responses. Apparently,
he didn't like "where I was coming
from" because at the end of the con-
versation he told me he was no
longer sure about having me on the
panel, and that he would let me
know the next day.
This in itself was fine and I ex-
pected it. It would have surprised me
if he hadn't been looking for certain
types of students to fit the direction
he thought the show should take,
and I didn't think I would be one of
So it came as no surprise when
we spoke on Wednesday and he told
me he had reconsidered and that they
were going to look for someone to
fill my space on the panel.
What is important are the things
he said to me as he tried to explain
why I could not be on the panel, and
the metaphoric value those com-
He began by saying that the deci-
sion to remove me from the panel
had been motivated by the quest for
"fairness and accuracy," in represent-
ing the University. When I asked
him how it could be unfair or inac-
curate to include my voice in the
panel, he told me that after our con-
versation the night before he felt that
I was "too political and critical" and
that I would "tip it (the show) in the
wrong direction... not really the
wrong direction, it would be umm
you know, more one sided..." [sic]
At that point I asked him how it
could be possible that my single
voice could make the panel more
lopsided than any other single voice.
He did not answer this question.
Instead, he went on to explain
that he has to try to "represent
50,000 students" in this piece, and
that I had a "non-representative, lit-
It remains, then, that I was re-
moved because I am "too political
and critical" and/or because I have a
voice." Either one of these indicates
clearly what it takes to get your
voice excluded from being heard in
mainstream media, and just how far-
cical the notion of "objective media"
In our conversation the night be-
fore, the producer had disclosed to
me the names of two of the other
students who will be on the panel.
One student is Marc Selinger, the
Editor in Chief of the monthly
I think this has particular rele-
vance. Quite obviously, Selinger has
a political opinion, is a political
thinker, has political motivations.
He and I share that in common in
our roles as editors and news ana-
lysts. It then seems safe to assume
that I was not kept from the student
panel because I am politically vocal,
as Selinger was allowed to remain
on the panel, but because I am
believe that Selinger's voice on the
panel would make the discussion,
"tip in the wrong direction...make it
It is significant to note that both
on this campus and in this country
we hold so firmly to the notion of
objectivity that the only time we
recognize bias is when it comes
from an alternative, or "little heard"
voice. Any voice which comes from
'Instead, he went on to explain that he has to try to 'represent 50,000 students'
in this piece, and that I had a 'non-representative, little-heard voice."
cused of being unfair and biased. But
the fact is every teacher brings a bias
to the classroom. Period. It's just a
question of whether that bias has
become so much the norm that it is
seen as "the truth" or whether it pre-
sents a challenge to the mainstream.
The same is true of newspa-
pers.When a newspaper comes out
with unprecedented, alternative ways
of reporting and analyzing the news
it is seen as biased and non-objec-
tive, when all that is really happen-
ing is that its bias is more evident,
but not more or less actual than the
bias of the mainstream media.
So when you tune in on Friday
morning, or when you pick up a pa-
per or watch the nightly news, don't
just listen to what you are hearing,
or believe what you are reading. Ask
yourself what you aren't hearing, or
reading, and why.
Betsy Esch is a Daily Opinion Page
Every month in the Review,
Selinger has a column in which he
analyzes something happening in the
news. Favorite topics have included
the mandatory class on racism, ob-
jective journalism and Ex-President
In this month's column, Selinger
discusses Reagan, and his relation-
ship to education in the United
States. The following are two quotes
from his January column:
"Stanford University, for exam-
ple, recently bowed to pressure from
a vocal minority of its students and
watered down the reading list of its
Western culture course with one that
is 'politically acceptable.'
"He (Reagan) will be cited for
improving relations with the Soviet
Union and his efforts to promote
peace in the Middle East,
Afghanistan and south-western
"critical" or because I have a "little-
To be kept from participating in a
televised panel because I am critical
of the University or because my
voice is not widely heard is
representative of the way in which
the mainstream media works, and the
absolute bias which is a part of that
How do you get your voice
heard? Get in the media.
How do you get in the media?
Don't be critical.
Marc Selinger promotes, in his
newspaper and in his column, the
same perspective CBS promotes. It
is representative of the exclusivity
which the institutions of this coun-
try perpetuate, and its maintenance
enables the continued access to
power. Those who support this have
historically had this power. It is not
surprising then, that CBS did noti
within the confines of the estab-
lished is factual and any voice which
challenges that is biased.
This is apparent in classes in
which instructors try to provide stu-
dents with alternative perspectives
on American History, literature,
politics. They are consistently ac-
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r .February 6, 1989