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November 06, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-06

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4 - Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4

[ e iic[ ig n il

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu
IMRAN SYED JEFFREY BLOOMER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR

I support them - people get the wrong idea
about how much writers make."
- Comedian Jay Leno, expressing his support for the Writers Guild of America, which began a
strike yesterday, as reported yesterday at CNN.com.

a

KARL STAMPFL
EDITOR IN CHIEF

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
The Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers' representative and takes a critical look at
coverage and content in every section of the paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He can be reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
Council of none
City Council needs more competition and dissent
here is an election in Ann Arbor today, but most students
, wouldn't know that. Busy though we may be champion-
ing presidential candidates and faraway causes, most of
us tend to ignore local elections. Indeed, not many students even
bother to register to vote in Ann Arbor or even know that that's
an option. It is easy to criticize students for being oblivious of the
politics of the city that they call home for most of the year, but the
problem is bigger than that. Not a single Ann Arbor City Council
seat up for election is being seriously contested. This election is
literally a foregone conclusion, and that is never acceptable under

Shades of meaning

ften when I was a reporter, a
source or a reader would call
to complain abouta story, and
while listening to
those concerns I
realized the prob-
lem wasn't with the
story, but with the"
headline.
I believe this
is the case with
some of the reader
concerns over sto- PAUL H.
ries that appeared
in the Daily in the JOHNSON
past two weeks.
One reader said that a story that with
the headline and subhead "Connerly's
crusade continues, Anti-affirmative
action ballot initiatives planned for
five more states in 2008" (10/24/2007)
was inaccurate. Another reader
thought the headline "Racist hazing
among Greeks?" (10/30/2007) was
unfair.
The first reader said because Mich-
igan's Proposal 2 did not ban all forms
of affirmative action, the headline
and the story were inaccurate. The
reader said: "To refer to Prop 2 as a
ban on affirmative action is simply
dishonest."
While I don't think the Daily was
trying to be dishonest, the reader has
a point. Proposal 2 does not restrict
other forms of affirmative action, such
as preferences based on age or veteran's
status. Therefore the headline could
be seen as inaccurate. But the reader's
problem with this headline demon-.
strates the difficulties writers often
face when crafting headlines.
Given tight space to convey the cen-
tral meaning of a news story, nuance
is often left out. At the Daily, front
page headlines are written by Manag-
ing News Editor Andrew Grossman.
"The space is limited," Grossman
said. "We try to be as specific as pos-

sible, but that's not always possible."
The paper also uses subheads, which
appear below the main headline, and
kickers, which appear above the main
headline, to better describe the main
focus of a particular story.
Editor in Chief Karl Stampfl has
final approval of all headlines in The
Statement, news and opinion sections
and can rewrite them if he feels they
are inaccurate, insensitive or just
plain wrong. "I want the tone of the
headline to fit the tone of the story,"
Stampfi said.
Writing a headline for the affirma-
tive action story was tough because the
Daily had to sum ups complex issue in
a small amount of space without using
big words. "It's very hard to convey
subtlety," Grossman said. It's just not
possible to convey all the information
about Proposal 2 solely ina headline.
That said, I would like to note that
in recent stories about affirmative
action, the Daily has said Proposal 2
bans race- and gender-based affirma-
tive action. The text of the amendment
to the Michigan state constitution
actually bans preferences based on
"race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national
origin." I think it's important the Daily
accurately represent in future stories
about Proposal 2 what the amendment
actually does, since national origin is
a characteristic independent of race.
I don't think it is necessary to point
out on every occasion what Proposal
2 doesn't ban, but it should note accu-
rately what the proposal does cover.
The second story "Racist haz-
ing among Greeks?" raised concerns
because of the use of the word racist.
That story dealt with an accusation
that a fraternity on campus was using
hazing tactics that were insensitive to
Mexicans. To the reader, the headline
made it seem as though the Daily had
already decided racism had occurred
and therefore was not -covering the

story objectively. But I believe the
question mark saves the headline, and
itshowsthe Dailyunderstands thatthe
interpretation over what happened on
that street in Ann Arbor seemed rac-
ist to some but might be seen another
way by a different group of people.
Grossman seems to be aware of the
problems that words pose to readers
and writers alike.
"Words have shades of meaning,"
he said. When writing headlines,
Grossman said, "you're trying to get
as close to the shade of the meaning
as possible."
Writing headlines
presents a unique
challenge.
The story about possible racist haz-
ing by fraternities leads me to discuss
one issuethatis ofconcerntotheGreek
system on campus in regards to head-
lines, the use of the word "frat." Daily
policy is to refrain from using that word
in news stories except in quotations by
a source and to avoid if possible the use
of the word frat in headlines.
The word is deeply offensive to fra-
ternities, and I think the Daily should
ban the 'word from its headlines. If
a group on campus finds the use of
a word highly insensitive, the Daily
should do more than just avoid the use
of the word in headlines, it should ban
the word from its headlines altogether,
especially if the word is already forbid-
den in the text of a news storyexcept if
used by a source.
Paul H. Johnson is the Daily's
public editor. He can be reached
at publiceditor@umich.edu

i

any conception of democracy.
One of the two City Council seats in every
one of Ann Arbor's five wards will be filled
in today's election. With no Republicans
running and only the long-shot write-in
campaign of Edwin Amonsen in their way,
Democrats will almost certainly once again
take every seat.
Sabra Briere, who handily beat out for-
mer councilman John Roberts and Uni-
versity employee Richard Wickboldt in the
Democratic primary in August, will win the
open seat in Ward 1. Incumbent Stephen
Rapundalo (who was not challenged in the
primary) will overwhelm Amonsen to keep
his seat. Incumbent Leigh Greden, who
fought off a challenge from LuAnne Bull-
ington in August, will keep his seat in Ward
3. Incumbent Marcia Higgins, who was not
challenged in the primary and won't be
challenged today, will keep her seat in Ward
4. Finally, Mike Anglin, who beat incumbent
Wendy Woods in the August primary, will
take the open seat in Ward 5.
The fact that we know before the election
exactly whothe winners willbe is ridiculous.
Ann Arbor is hardly a slice of heaven where
everything is perfect and everyone agrees;
there are plenty of points of contention.
There are many important issues that the
City Council will decide this year, including
the lack of affordable housing, green space,
commuter rails and parking. Because there
are no differing views in today's election to
consider and vote upon, the people of Ann

Arbor have been unfairly robbed of a chance
to voice dissent.
City elections are most directly affected
by residents who choose to rise up and be the
voices of dissent themselves. This was what
Wickboldt did, and though his platform left
much to be desired, he did at least take a
stand against the policies that he disliked. It
is the job of Ann Arbor residents to speak up
and bring differing viewpoints to City Coun-
cil. The city may be overwhelmingly liberal,
but there should at least be some indepen-
dent and third-party candidates raising hell
in the general elections. Such campaigns are
not as unlikely as one might think; no one
gave Anglin a chance against Woods in the
primary, and yet Anglin won the old-fash-
ioned way, by knocking on doors and speak-
ing to voters.
Students themselves must play a larger
role in City Council. We gripe when City
Council drags its feet on installing proper
streetlights in our neighborhoods and when
it restricts parking in student neighbor-
hoods, but we are always too complacent
to actually do something about it. Eugene
Kang, then a University student, ran for
City Council two years ago and almost won.
Other students must follow in his way. Stu-
dents, along with Ann Arbor's other resi-.
dents, have a responsibility to ensure that
future elections are more contested and that
no one person or viewpoint geta free ride in
Ann Arbor politics.

I

I do not. own these words

EMAD ANSARI
The real Pakistan

Is Pakistanreally the most dangerous coun-
try in the world? Do Pakistanis fear returning
from work to find a Voldemort-esque Dark
Mark hanging over their houses? Does it take
a police escort to get a bus full of students
safely to school? These are stereotypes that
have circulated for several years and inten-
sified recently in light of President Pervez
Musharraf's strong-arming. These things are
said so often that most Americans, having no
other way of understanding Pakistan, take
them to be true.
Much has been said on how the diversity
that is so vital for the University's academic
atmosphere is to be preserved. But what use
is that diversity if we let our misconceptions
dictate our understandings instead'of using
the possibilities diversity offers? Limited
portrayals of foreign countries, like those of
Pakistan cited above, produce stereotypes
that are very easy to believe, and many peo-
ple blindly subscribe to them. Diversity offers
the opportunity to question and dispel such
unfair stereotypes.
The University is certainly the place to take
advantage of that opportunity. Its admissions
packetboasts of a diverse studentbody- mem-
bers of which hail from 129 countries. That is
an impressive statistic, prospectively opening
up two-thirds of the world to a student enter-
ing the University.
In the two months that I have been at
the University, I have seen some amusing
assumptions on how I, as an internation-
al student from Pakistan, must have lived
before coming to America. Common mis-
conceptions include the belief that just about
everything costs $2 in Pakistan and that the
entire nation is an uninhabitable desert.
The more serious and potentially harm-
ful assumptions are derived from news sto-
ries covering the recent suicide bombing in
Karachi or rumors of extremists hiding in
the mountains between Afghanistan and
Pakistan. It's not surprising that most people
don't know how people in Pakistan, Cam-
eroon or Egypt live ordinary lives. Routine,
everyday life in foreign countries isn't impor-

tant enough to make headlines. It's easy, in
the absence of this information, to assume
that the events earning front-page coverage
are representative of -everyday life in that
particular country.
But contrary to what this coverage would
have you believe, Pakistan really isn't a place
where everyone supports radical Islamists
and holds anti-American beliefs, and there's
no covert civil war going on. One horrendous
act of terrorism doesn't make any country
the most dangerous in the world, nor does
it entail that every Pakistani is an extrem-
ist. What is assumed to be the general trend,
according to many depictions, is actually the
situation in a province that is home to just 3
percent of Pakistan's total population. That's
like using the crime rate in Detroit's Cass
Corridor as representative of the crime rate
for all of America.
The picture that most people don'tget to see
is that the life of a student in Pakistan is, while
not exactly the samevery similar to that of the
average American student. Both occasionally
eat out at Pizza Hut, listen to the Red Hot Chili
Peppers, struggle with their SATs and ardently
follow their favorite sports teams. Certainly,
that's only true of a limited number of people
in Pakistan, because the country also has pov-
erty issues, but no one lives in fear of being
kidnapped or mugged, and no one has to dodge
landmines to get to the mall.
The last thing anyone - not just Pakistanis
or Turks or Germans - wants is to be stereo-
typed and misrepresented, and the only way
to avoid doing so is by taking advantage of
the opportunities that the University offers
through its strong international community.
So go to the next event the Indian American
Students Association presents or the next con-
cert sponsored by the Pakistani Students Asso-
ciation. Take a class about different cultures
and attend lectures put on by the International
Institute. You'll find that Pakistani culture
really isn't all that extreme or scary.
Emad Ansari is an LSA freshman and a
member of the Daily's editorial board.

T he University recently
announced a plan to warn stu-
dents who are uploading files
on their comput-
ers that they couldw
unwittingly be
breaking the law. ,
Be Aware You're
Uploading is an
automated system
thatsends ane-mail
to students who
are uploading files
using certain pro- ROBERT
grams. The system SOAVE
was put in place to -
warn students of
the danger of the Recording Industry
Association of America targeting stu-
dents who might not even be aware
that their actions are illegal.
When charged with the crime, it is
usually easier for students to settle out
of court than to face the hassle of legal
proceedings. BAYU is an excellent
way to spare some students from the
RIAA's cruel legal tactics by educating
them. However, such programs should
be unnecessary; there should be no
need to educate students about illegal
file sharing, because file sharingshould
not beillegal.
No matter how vehemently the
record companies fight to protect the
rights to their music, music is simply
not something that can be owned. The
tangible disc that you buy from the
store can be owned, but the informa-
tion on it cannot. How can one pos-
sibly lay claim to information? The
information on a CD does not exist in
any physical sense. People who down-
load music online are often accused of
stealing from the artist. But in order
for a theft to occur, you must take
something from someone.
If I take my friend's apple, I have sto-
len it, because my friend no longer has

access to the apple when it is in my pos-
session. If I download a song from the
Internet, I have not prevented anyone
else from having access to it, because
I have only taken information that can
be easily reproducedby anyone an infi-
nite number of times.
Downloading music represents a
free-rider problem: Everyone can use
and enjoy music without depleting its
overall availability. The artists should
seek compensation in forms that they
are able to control, such as concerts and
albums made under their record label.
The music itself is too abstract a con-
cept to reasonably belong to anyone.
It is not unreasonable to lay claim to
objects that a person controls. The def-
inition of property is only what each
person can claim as his or her own: I
have no authority to.claim that an idea
belongs to me when every other per-
son in the world could have the exact
same idea. Such a ridiculous claim is
impossible to substantiate.
Then again our society has come
up with a method for substantiating
ridiculous claims. We have copyright
laws that punish the theft of ideas
that can never be technically stolen.
Copyright laws are an assault on the
idea of the freedom of information.
With these vague laws, the govern-
ment enforces the idea that a person
or a corporation can own words and
sounds. The RIAA demands compen-
sation for something that I have not
stolen but merely acquired because of
the abstract and intangible nature of
music on the Internet.
Critics might argue that musicians
should be able to own their music
because they created it and you should
own anything that you create by
default. But again, information cannot
be owned; it is not something that can
be touched, held, hidden away, stolen
or legitimately claimed without gov-

ernment interference to back it.
Creation is a poor argument for
ownership at any rate; it would make it
pretty tough to own land. People own
land because they simply laid claim
to it, and because it was something
that could actually be controlled by a
person's own abilities. Only with the
government's random mandates could
anyone actually lay claim to something
as abstract as information that is sent
over the Internet.
I would never download a song
off the Internet without buying it,
because I respect the talent that cre-
ated it. I want to thank the artist by
Ideas cannot
be owned -
or stolen.
paying for his creation, and I want to
own the official CD with the official
album artwork. If I downloaded the
music illegally, I would feel like I was
not a truly devout fan of the artist. But
such an action should not make me a
criminal.
The idea that information can be
owned.is quite terrifying. Where will
intellectual property rightsend? Today,
the government defends companies
that claim to own music. Tomorrow, it
may defend people who claim to have
invented new feelings and emotions.
Such abstract claims of ownership may
seem ridiculous, but the government
has already stretched copyright laws
past any definable form by criminaliz-
ing file sharing over the Internet.
Robert Soave can be reached
at rsoave@umich.edu

0

a

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be less than 300 words and
must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. All submissions become property of
the Daily. We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.
CHRIS KOSLOWSKI
.atdo think of Paul
enew publicred'r? Youknow, we I really
stop thaL. Haven'tyou ever I a
i co d Oes rthis eae teard t you shouldn't t bite
we can't mae fun of the he hand that feeds yu?
4
CID/
A0

I
I

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Jon Cohen, Milly Dick,
Mike Eber, Gary Graca, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels,
Robert Soave, Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya,
Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa

,r ,

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