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October 19, 1990 - Image 2

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-10-19

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Page 2 -The Michigan Daily Centennial Edition- Friday, October 19, 1990
Political division plagued staff

FACTIONS
Continued from page 1
only one left editing the paper," she
said.
Political factions began develop-
ing in the summer of 1988. Gener-
ally speaking, the sides consisted of
what was then called the "activists"
and the "objective journalists."
The objective journalists believed
writers should stay away from pro-
moting campus activism in their
stories. This group also emphasized
striving for impartiality on the news
pages and not promoting campus in-
terest groups.
The activists believed objective
journalists were wedded to the status
quo. Traditional journalistic objec-
tivity, they argued, was impossible
for a writer to obtain because each
writer brought his or her own biases
- such as a white male's or a Black
woman's perspective - to the story.
The activist group, therefore,
stressed that each writer should for-
sake the pretense of objectivity and
make his or her bias known and ad-
vocate the "correct position" in the
story. The Daily, the activists said,
should be an advocate for fighting
jracism, sexism, homophobia, clas-
sism and other societal ills. The ac-
tivists desired to turn the Daily to-
ward left-of-center political ends.
an The battle was foreshadowed by
an opinion page staffer's proposal
made during the summer of 1988 to
replace the sports section with an
ecology section.
The main reason cited was the
lack of coverage for women's sports.
BRcause "coverage and promotion of

a human activity that is limited to
men only contributes to, legit-
imizes, and celebrates an elitist, fas-
cist ideology and has no place in our
paper," sports should be abolished,
the proposal said.
Further reasons included:
"Sports contributes to the de-
politicization and placation of the
American people. This is quintessen-
tially fascist."
"Sports/games exacerbate the
ever-expanding homeless population
in the U.S. Millions of Americans
sleep on the streets at night because
of the dearth of low-income housing,
but millions of dollars are spent to
build large luxurious sports arenas."
Needless to say, the proposal was
never enacted.
The real battles began when fall
term started and President Duderstadt
was inaugurated. A group of
protestors, including several Daily
opinion page staff members, demon-
strated outside Hill Auditorium,
claiming Duderstadt's selection vio-
lated the Open Meetings Act.
Police eventually broke up the
demonstration and arrested the Daily
staffers. The incident touched off a
week of lengthy midnight meetings
at which the staff tried to come to
grips with the actions of the staffers.
Those arrested said they were ex-
ercising their own right to expres-
sion. They argued that just because
they were members of a newspaper,
they did not have to give up their
rights as citizens, especially if they
were not covering the event they
were protesting.
But the objective journalists said
participation in demonstrations

compromised the credibility of the
Daily. To no avail, they called for
the dismissal of the involved staffers
and a prohibition on headline-
grabbing activity linking the paper
with activism.
But the most controversial inci-
dent within the Daily occurred the
next week when Pam Nadasen, an
often-quoted and leading member of
the United Coalition Against
Racism (UCAR), requested to be-
come a member of the Daily's news
staff. For her first assignment, she
set out to write a news story on why
Native Americans and other minority
groups objected to the celebration of
Columbus Day.
When the news editors realized
UCAR was a leading organizer of
the protest against Columbus Day,
they prohibited Nadasen from writ-
ing the story because they believed
there was no way she could remain
objective.
The news editors also prevented
Nadasen from joining the news staff
in any capacity because of what they
believed to be a strong chance she
might write a story and be quoted in
another place on the same page. The
objective journalists believed this
would cause the Daily to be strongly
linked to whatever cause Nadasen
was espousing in the article in
which she was quoted.
In both decisions, the editors
feared a loss of journalistic
credibility.
These moves created a firestorm
within the minority community and
with the "activist" segment of the
Daily staff, who claimed the deci-

FILE PHOTO/Daily
Ann Arbor police arrest Daily opinion page staffer Rollie Hudson, a protester at the 1988 Hill Aduitorium
inauguration of President James Duderstadt.

sions were racist. Because people of
color on campus were forced to
combat institutional bigotry on
campus, they argued, these students
necessarily became more politically
active than white students. These
voices could not be banned from the
news pages.
The editors agreed to a meeting
- which lasted from 12 to 4 a.m.
one night - with the disaffected
parties.
The result was a new policy an-
nounced in an editorial: "Anyone can
write for any part of the Daily even
if they are involved in political or
anti-racist groups on campus in any
activity. News reporters may not
write about events in which they are
actively participating or organizing.
Daily news can include quotes from
neonle who work for the Dail and

was "sacrificing traditional and abso-
lute objectivity most papers strive
for." She said the sacrifice was worth
it even though "journalism profes-
sors kept asking 'what the hell is
going on at the Daily?'"
Two news editors resigned in
protest of what they saw as the
Daily giving up on journalistic
ethics. A debate centering around the
new policy lasted until it was re-
versed nearly a year later - at which
time it was decided news reporters
could no longer cover any organiza-
tions with which they have any
involvement.

ers and staffers alike:
. A November 1988 editorial
titled "Kahane ban token" argued that
the ideology of Zionism, the basis
on which Israel was founded,
tantamount to racism.
A second editorial, on Jan. 23,
1989, stated "Mass immigration of
Ethiopian Jews to Israel, at this
juncture, is but a ruse disguised as
humanitarianism, to provide more
occupiers of Palestinian land."
The third editorial, on Feb:
14, 1989, suggested Israel may have

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'Sometimes I thought I'd be the only one left
editing the paper
- Rebecca Blumenstein
1988 Editor in Chief

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1140 South University
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Ph: (313) 663-5800
Hours: Mon-Sat: 9 am-10 pm
Sun: 11 am-8 pm

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are members of organizations."
The editorial also stated that "the
news editors were confronted with
the fact that their previous ideas of
'objective' and 'credible' journalism
were in effect racist, serving only to
reduce the roles of minorities on the
paper. The new policy is an affirma-
tion that the Daily's old notions of
" 'objectivity' and 'credibility' were
exclusionary ones, created by white
reporters for a white readership."
Then-Opinion Page Editor Caleb
Southworth explained: "Instead of
trying to pretend people don't have
biases... we allow them to write
from the perspective of their biases
and acknowledge (them).
"This is better than a reporter
who knows nothing; they may make
simple mistakes."
Then-Editor in Chief Rebecca
" Blumenstein saw the policy as a
possible solution to the lack of mi-
norities working on the Daily.
Students of color, such as
Nadasen, "naturally gravitate to
'activist' groups" because of the lim-
ited number of minorities on cam-
pus, Blumenstein said. "If we wanted
more minorities on the paper, we
come into conflict with that fact."
Blumenstein admitted the paper

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Two of the fiercest Daily argu-
ments spilled out onto campus and
beyond, producing protests of the
newspaper.
The first occurred just a few
weeks after the news policy struggle,
when the Daily printed two police
sketches of an alleged serial rapist
on campus. Both drawings were of
young Black men.
The sketches brought criticism
from many in the Black community
who called them racist because their
vagueness had the effect of labelling
all young Black men as rapists.
UCAR and other activist groups ini-
tiated a Nov. 3 protest of the Daily,
at which Blumenstein refused to
apologize because she believed it
was "the Daily's duty as a campus
newspaper to give the community as
much information as possible."
Daily staffers again congregated
for heated discussions. This time,
the debates culminated in a front-
page editorial apologizing for
"implicating a large group of people
rather than a specific person."
Blumenstein said the change of
heart came when she and the other
editors realized the printing of the
composites may have bolstered racial
stereotypes and led to the implica-
tion of all Black men as rapists. "In
trying to serve an informational need
on campus, we infringed on the
rights of a lot of people," she said.'
The Daily still declines to pdnt
vague or conflicting descriptions. r
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But the issue which garnered the
most publicity for the Daily - in-
cluding an article in The New York
Times - was its editorial stance on
Israel. Three editorials angered read-

been responsible for the bombing of
Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland.
The three editorials angered many
segments of the Jewish communit"
On Feb. 21, about 200 students ad
faculty gathered in front of the Stu-
dents Publications Building to
protest what they perceived as the
Daily's anti-Jewish sentiment.
A press release produced by the
protesters said, "The Michigan
Daily's editorial board has con-
tributed to an atmosphere of bigotry
toward Jews at the University, of
Michigan."
History Prof. Todd Endleman, thf
director of the University's Judaic
Studies Department, said, "The
Daily is obsessed with Zionism; one
would think that it's the only con-
flict going on between two groups."
But Daily Opinion Page Editor
Amy Harmon defended the editorials.
"I am a Jew... The distinction people
are failing to make is the difference
between Judaism and Zionism. W0
are critical of Israel's policies, bit
we are not anti-Jewish."
Many Daily staffers -were also
upset by the editorials. But because
they could not muster a majority at
editorial board meetings, they could
do little to change them.
Typifying an attitude held by
many Daily staffers, 1989 Editor in
Chief Adam Schrager called the ed0
torials "offensive."
Schrager: said at that time the
Daily had a "very poor working at-
mosphere. Unfortunately, in my four
years, there was not nearly enough
time to work on the quality of the
paper rather than the politics of the
paper. That's the only thing I
regret."

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