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February 20, 2012 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-20

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4A - Monday, February 20, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
Value editorial freedom
Business interests shouldn't dictate coverage
ree speech is an integral aspect of the American Dream. It's
possibly the first and most utilized right in the United States,
and one that is often taken for granted. It's inappropriate for
any city to lose this basic right. If nowhere else, the city of Philadel-
phia should remember that. The Liberty Bell and the University of
Pennsylvania, founded by Benjamin Franklin, are daily reminders of
it. The coming sale and subsequent censoring of the city's newspapers
like The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News is a
significant misstep away from all that the city represents. News and
media within Philadelphia must remain reliable. Newspapers must
stay objective as an integral part of free society despite whatever eco-
nomic or political happenings are going on behind the scenes.

I don't know why we're spending all this time
talking about (marriage equality)."
- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said on NBC's "Meet the Press" when he was
asked if the nation should be discussing same-sex marraige.
The words of others

Since the Philadelphia Media Network
announced that it would be up for sale,
there's been a significant amount of inter-
est in purchasing the network - consisting
of The Inquirer, The Daily News and Philly.
com. The largest and most powerful source
is a group of executive Democratic investors,
led by Ed Rendell, the former Philadelphia
mayor, former governor of Pennsylvania and
chairman of the Democratic National Com-
mittee. Last week, CEO and Publisher of the
Philadelphia Media Network Gregory Osberg
announced within the company that he
would oversee all articles produced regard-
ing the sale of the company. He went on to say
that if any ran without his personal approval,
those involved would be fired, including both
the writers and editors.
The sale and corresponding censoring of
the newspaper stems from a concern within
the company itself. Older forms of publishing
specifically newspapers, have had trouble
coping with and adjusting to an increasing-
ly online and decreasingly profitable busi-
ness model. Twitter, the "blogosphere" and
24-hour cable news cycles have changed the
game. It's become progressively harder for
newspapers to reach a disappearing niche.
The censorship of articles to favor certain

prospective buyers is an attempt on the part
of the management to keep both public con-
cern and private fervor to a minimum until
the deal goes through.
However, that concern is not an excuse to
censor what should be public information.
Newspapers, the only type of business men-
tioned in the Constitution, cannot simply sell
their content or focus to the highest bidder.
The spread of information is a crucial institu-
tion ina democratic system. It keeps the public
knowledgeable and institutions reliable and
accountable. Investment in media is an invest-
ment in literary freedom and free speech, not
an attempt to facilitate personal interests and
intentions of the buyers within society. This is
especially true, and a bit unnerving, when the
buyers are well-known political bosses.
It's unfortunate that the print media indus-
try is in a current dire financial situation. That
doesn't mean, however, that editors should cen-
sor or bias their content and mission to accom-
modate financial interests. It's impossible to
say newspapers are without bias or any con-
flict of interests, but they must do everything
within their power to retain editorial integrity.
In a political era fraughtwith wealthy lobbying
interests, journalism must find a way to retain
its objective and integral role.

Being responsible for your own
words is hard enough, but it's noth-
ing compared to being responsible
for the words of others. Yet, that is
a large part of the everyday task of
all Michigan Daily editors. Unsur-
prisingly, things don't always go
Last week, a student brought to
my attention an op-ed viewpoint
submission he had made to the
editorial page. The student was
annoyed that the ultimate version
of the viewpoint that was printed
mangled his apparent thesis - a
result of a haphazard and drastic
cutting process, he said. There's no
doubt that something went wrong
in editing that particular piece,
and I thought I'd use that issue to
launch a broader discussion of the
Daily's editing process.
Editors of every section of this
paper have the responsibility of
revising and perfecting the work
of staff writers in their sections.
Editorial page editors have an
added responsibility of review-
ing and editing submissions made
by outsiders, such as viewpoints
and letters to the editor. The bal-
ance between allowing the writer's
voice to come through and printing
the most polished piece possible is
a tough one to navigate. Yet both
responsibilities are immensely
I remember that in my years as
an arts writer, there was no more
oppressive a feeling than picking
up the Daily before class one morn-
ing and finding that a movie review
I had spent hours working on had
been squished into a tiny space,
chopped viciously and robbed of all
character. Though I learned to deal
with it better, that used to happen
to me even as a senior writer.

I'm sure writers in every section
of this paper know what I'm talk-
ing about. While there are all sorts
of people writing for the Daily,
they have one thing in common:
they consider writing to be their
strength. So, to have an article be
completely rewritten in editing can
be a maddening occurrence. Mad-
dening, but often necessary.
As writers (hopefully) learn
quickly, there is no submission
that can't be improved by a smart,
focused editor. And if the writer
can be involved in the editing pro-
cess, then that's even better - not
only does the piece itself improve,
but the writer also learns lessons to
be applied in future work.
Collaborative editing with staff
writers should be practiced in
every section of this paper as much
as possible. But, in addition to
being a staff writer, I was also an
editor, so I can see the other side
of this coin too. A newspaper has
deadlines, and, as student-jour-
nalists, editors are always shorton
time. There won't always be time
to sit down with a writer to do a
collaborative edit, and often, it can
seem like just a tedious addition to
daily editing duties.
I fought that mindset as an edi-
tor myself, so I know the impor-
tance of overcoming it. At a student
newspaper, the mission is not just
to cover the news and provide
commentary, but also to improve
as writers and journalists, and
then pass on what you learn to the
next class of writers. The tedium
of teaching the proper way to do
things through a collaborative edit
is a big part of the job.
The task of editing the submis-
sions of outsiders, such as letters to
the editor, is an added challenge.

There is no face-to-face editing in
this context, and there isn't always
time to contact the submitter to get
clarifications or corrections. While
the Daily will sometimes send an
edited piece back to the outside
writer to proofread, this practice
has pitfalls, and I always thought
best to avoid it.
As an independent editorial
voice, the Daily has the right to
properly and fairly edit all submis-
sions for clarity, veracity and space
constraints. But this task must be
given the utmost attention because
when mistakes occur, it's easy for
outsiders to criticize the paper's
processes or intentions. Should
the Daily fail on this front by mak-
ing too many mistakes, it may have
no choice but to cede to outside
submitters some of the editorial
authority it has - something that
should be avoided.
My feeling is that most problems
in the editing of stories come from
a lack of focus: It's easy for an edi-
tor to lose sight of the importance
of one piece when dealing with
numerous submissions each night.
But consider that each of those
pieces is written by an individual
who doesn't care how well you
edited all the other pieces on the
page that night. Proper editing of
submissions is part of the Daily's
mission of responsiveness to read-
ers, and it is a responsibility that
deserves attention.
" -The public editor is an independent
critic of the Daily, and neither the editorial
board nor the editor in chief exercise
controlover the contents of his columns.
The opinions expressed do not necessarily
constitute the opinion of the Daily.
Imran Syed can be reached at


Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Harsha Panduranga, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne
Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
youMICHfor our campus

A parody of itself

The Central Student Government is com-
prised of well-intentioned representatives,
but a blanket of apathy has smothered their
promises. Representatives are trapped in
a system that isn't focused on what the stu-
dents want from their government. Our goal
is to reinvigorate that system and change CSG
into a student-focused government. When we
elect our student leaders on campus to repre-
sent our interests within the University com-
munity and beyond, it's necessary that those
leaders remember the students and their
ideas. It's a fact that is easily forgotten, but
needs to become the motto of student govern-
ment. This year, we want to revert the focus
of CSG back to students, back to student life
and student organizations and back to you.
We invite you to become part of our effort -
our movement - to change the focus of stu-
dent government here on campus and to join
our party, youMICH, as we seek to make stu-
dent government all about you.
The youMICH party is led by Business
School junior Shreya Singh and LSA junior
Ethan Hahn, running for president and vice
president, respectively. During our service
as CSG treasurer and chairman of the LGBT
Issues Commission, we have invested our
time into CSG throughout our college careers
and have fought to maintain an emphasis
on the needs of the student body. Singh has
worked extensively with student organiza-
tions on campus, ensuring the transformation
of the funding process with the CSG Student
organization Funding Commission, while
Hahn has worked alongside administrators
and faculty to continually improve student
life and the campus environment, specifically
initiating the Department of Queer Studies
campaign. If elected president and vice presi-
dent of CSG, we pledge to refocus student
government's priorities on the three specific
areas that impact you the most: your student
academics, your student organizations and

your campus environment.
We have formed the youMICH party
to ensure that candidates running in this
spring's CSG elections are focused on the
constituency they serve - the wants and
needs of Michigan students. Potential you-
MICH representatives' projects will include
the following: breakfast with Brady Hoke on
the Diag, a website called Rate My Landlords
to increase dialogue between students and
realtors, continued town hall meetings and
an initiative to address police noise violations
with the Greek community. Our party's main
goals are to review and improve the Univer-
sity financial aid process, to work with the
Center for Campus Involvement to create and
maintain a University-wide student organi-
zation events calendar and to sponsor more
high-attendance events, concerts and pep
rallies for students. For more background on
our platform, check out our Facebook page at
Vote youMICH. We are proud of the projects
we've proposed and hope that others will join
the movement we've started on campus.
Though we are a new student political
party, we have experience both on and off
CSG that has given us insight regarding what
things we want to change and the practical
know-how to facilitate those changes. How-
ever, what we change will be driven by your
needs. We believe we can unite the cam-
pus as we all are composed of diverse back-
grounds, different communities, experiences
and ambitions. We invite you to come join us
in our venture for a new and improved stu-
dent body government. We want to make it
all about you, including your academics, your
student organizations and your campus envi-
ronment. We want you to be part of the move-
Shreya Singh is CSG treasurer and a Business
junior. Ethan Hahn is chairman of the LGBT
Issues Commission and an LSA junior.

don't watch much television.
Really, I don't have the time.
But the other day, having a
rare bit of down-
time, I decided
to kick back and
scan through
the channels. I
landed on CNN.A
What I saw
disgusted me.
Between talk of DANIEL
Whitney Hous- CHARDELL
ton's untimely
death and the
unrelenting bloodshed in Syria, the
screen was filled with images of
Republican presidential candidates
spewing hatred, arrogance and out-
right lies in their desperate attempt
to secure their party's nomination.
Mitt Romney's floundering cam-
paign would be sad - if he weren't
so robotic. Whether wooing Flor-
ida seniors with a stiff rendition of
"America the Beautiful" or insisting
that he is in fact a "severely con-
servative" candidate, the man can't
shed his Richie Rich image. (To be
fair, singing on the campaign trail
isn't a tactic exclusive to Republi-
cans. In January, President Obama
gave us a few lines of Al Green's
"Let's Stay Together." But hey, at
least Obama had fun with it. Rom-
ney's performance, on the other
hand, seemed more like a contrac-
tual obligation.)
And as for Rick Santorum,
he's been busy warning voters of
Obama's ostensible war on religion
as part of his broader scheme to
charm the religious right. What's my
favorite recent Santorum-ism? That
President Obama's "overt hostility
to faith in America" is leading us to
"the guillotine." Yes, he really said
this on multiple occasions.
These were the sorts of things
I was seeing on the news that day.
Just as I was wondering, "Why in

the world I was subjecting myself
to this garbage?" CNN cut to a com-
mercial break. What came on next?
An attack ad against Santorum put
out by Restore Our Future, a pro-
Romney super PAC.
I guess it was inevitable that I'd
encounter one of these ads. As of Feb.
17, Restore Our Future had bought
more than $3.2 million in media
space in Michigan, The Hufington
Post reported. In response, the Red
White and Blue Fund, a pro-Santo-
rum super PAC, is set to spend $1.1
million in airtime and TV in the
All of these buys may be pumping
a bit of extra money into the Michi-
gan economy, but any potential
benefits will certainly come at the
expense of our sanity.
And then, on Saturday, I had
another unanticipated encoun-
ter with the Michigan Republican
primary. Stopped at a red light on
Hill Street, I saw Romney's cam-
paign bus drive by. It wasn't quite
as flashy as Sarah Palin's now-infa-
mous Constitution-wrapped bus in
which she toured the country last
summer, but it gets the point across.
Stenciled beneath the words "Con-
servative, Businessman, Leader"
is his campaign's stirring slogan:
"Believe in America."
I wondered how much Romney
actually believes in his "Believe in
America" catch phrase or whether
it was simply the slogan that test-
ed best in his well-funded focus
Like alot of us, I can'tstandAmer-
ican politics. It makes my blood boil.
But whatever you do, politics won't
leave you alone and it shouldn't. It
follows you wherever you go. As
Romney and Santorum descend
upon Michigan like vultures, tear
each other down in their eagerness
to secure their place in history and (I
hope) hand President Obama his sec-

end term along the way, I encourage
you to participate in politics with the
knowledge that we can only get out
of the democratic process what we
put into it.
The political process is a theatri-
cal production: it's tedious, and it's
staged drama. I know how hard it is
to stomach the absurdities of elec-
tions, and I know how easy it would
be to turn off the television when
a candidate gives us a smile as he
dances coyly around the question
he was asked, but don't let it alien-
ate you. There will be insinceri-
ties, all the more so as we approach
Super Tuesday and the general
election itself, but don't let them
drive you away.
The political
process is a
tedious and
staged drama.
Politics has become a parody of
itself. That much is obvious. But it's
a twisted irony that this thing we
call politics also has a bearing on
everything that matters - national
security, warfare, taxes, tuition
costs, economic inequality, civil
rights, healthcare and so on. To let
the Romneys and Santorums disaf-
fect you from the theatrical process
would increase the likelihood that
you'll be dissatisfied with the tan-
gible outcome of their work.
As the melodramatic political bat-
tle for Michigan begins, and as we
near next Tuesday's primary, think
about that.
- Daniel Chardell can be
reached at chardell@umich.edu.

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