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June 06, 2005 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-06-06

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 6, 2005

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420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109 STEPHANIE WRIGHT DONN M. FRESARD
tothedaily@michigandaily.com Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
SINCE 1890 necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

4

A new hope
Student neighborhood group, emergent from
local blogging scene, is singularly promising

Digging for truth
Deep Throat provides timely lessons for media

ver the past year or so in Ann
Arbor, local blogs have emerged
as the most - and perhaps the
only - effective entity in coordinating
and promoting student interests in local
politics. While the local homeowner-run
neighborhood associations have continu-
ally pushed their anti-student agendas on
the city - through the proposed porch
couch ban, stiff resistance to the con-
struction of North Quad and new restric-
tions on side-street parking, to name a
few examples - the campus political
groups that should be working to orga-
nize a student opposition have generally
responded with apathy.
In the absence of any campus-based
organization with the strength and initia-
tive to challenge the anti-student estab-
lishment, bloggers and their readers have
taken a strong interest in the workings of
Ann Arbor's city government. This online
community has filled an important gap
where traditional campus groups have
failed. Campus student groups essentially
ignored the proposed porch couch ban last
year; it was dropped only after readers of
local blogs, which vigorously opposed the
ban, pressured city council members via e-
mail. Blogs won an important victory for
students despite their limited resources,
functioning without the concrete member-
ship and infrastructure that characterize
traditional campus organizations. Rather
than using colorful handouts to broadcast
their positions to indifferent students on
the Diag, bloggers-
engaged their read-
ers in meaningful
discussions, con- /
vincing them and '
inspiring them to
take action.
As the couch
ban demonstrated,
blogging makes
it easier than ever
to bring together
students who live
across Ann Arbor
but share the same
goals. Students liv-
ing near the sta-
dium no longer OLD WESTSII
need to tire their
feet to be richly connected to those who
live across the city; a borderless commu-
nity has emerged that students can use to
take action. Traditional methods like flyer-
ing and chalking seem obsolete in com-
parison. With the technology bloggers are
using, as Tom Friedman would say, Ann
Arbor is flat.
For this reason, we believe the recently
established New West Side Association
- the city's only student-run neighbor-
hood association, based on the borders of
the Old West Side Association, and a child
of the local blogging community - rep-

resents a real opportunity for a revitalized
local student activism. The group's forma-
tion is an exciting step toward incorporat-
ing new technology to organize students
and promote their interests in the city.
F or years, a development that
could meaningfully increase stu-
dent influence over city policy has
seemed hopelessly out of reach. Ann
Arbor's ward system effectively dissipates
the student vote in city elections by split-
ting up student-dominated neighborhoods
among its five wards. But student-run
neighborhood associations could develop
voting blocs within each gerrymandered
ward, forcing council members to listen
to students' concerns. These geographi-
cally based groups could help organizers
to be effective in going door-to-door to
register students within the neighborhood
to vote. By focusing on city council races
specific to each ward, these groups could
maximize student influence.
Still, student groups based around neigh-
borhoods are not enough. Neighborhood
associations have been successful for Ann
Arbor homeowners in large part because
of homeowners' concern with property
values and the proximate nature of their
interests. Student renters, on the other
hand, rarely stay in the same neighbor-
hoods for more than a couple of years and
tend to have interests that span the entire
city; most are more concerned with leg-
islation that affects students citywide than
whether their neigh-
bors' lawns are pre-
sentable. Groups
like the New West
Side, for this reason,
should also focus on
developing an over-
arching organization
to promote student
interests; their expe-
N, ;. A , rience with online
organizing will help
them unite students
with similar interests
citywide.
The New West
Side stands out as
DE group with a unique
potential to reverse
the recent trend of local apathy among
students. A concrete group will be impor-
tant in reaching out to the many students
who do not read blogs, but its savvy use
of technology will grant it a swiftness
and interactivity that other organizations
lack. Hopefully similar groups will form
in other wards, and an overarching orga-
nization will soon emerge to consolidate
student interests. In the question of which
came first, the organization or the website,
the New West Side Association defies tra-
dition, but it may be this aberration that
brings it success.

F or over 30 years, the identity of
Deep Throat was one of the greatest
unsolved mysteries in American jour-
nalism and politics. During the two years
between the 1972 break-in at the Water-
gate Hotel and the resignation of President
Richard Nixon, Bob Woodward and Carl
Bernstein of The Washington Post stood
out for their well-informed coverage of the
investigation. With the help of a highly-
placed source feeding them information
about the progress of the federal investi-
gation, the reporters played a key role in
keeping the scandal in the public eye and
preventing Nixon from halting the inves-
tigation. This source, nicknamed "Deep
Throat" by the media, was finally revealed
last week to be W. Mark Felt, former asso-
ciate director of the FBI. Three decades
ago, Felt's role in the Post's reporting was
critical in revealing the corruption in the
Nixon administration that could have oth-
erwise remained hidden. And today, at
age 91, Felt's unveiling as Deep Throat
provides us with an important and timely
reminder of the importance of investiga-
tive journalism.
Watergate is undoubtedly one of the most
significant events in American politics, but
it was also a turning point in the history
of American journalism. After Watergate,
politicians were subject to an unprecedent-
ed level of public scrutiny as investigative
reporting of political figures became more
aggressive. Furthermore, the impact of the
Post's reporting inspired a new generation
of journalists, all eager to uncover another
story that would change history. The film
"All the President's Men," based on the
memoir by Woodward and Bernstein, only
furthered the romanticism, making jour-
nalism as glamorous as Robert Redford in
the eyes of a generation of Americans.
The revelation of Deep Throat's iden-

tity could not come at a more opportune
time. With recent media scandals causing
many to question the use of anonymous
sources, Deep Throat should serve as a
reminder of their crucial role in investiga-
tive journalism. When utilized properly, as
in the case of Woodward and Bernstein, an
anonymous source can be a powerful tool
in uncovering hidden truths. In the face
of pressure to curtail the use of unnamed
sources, journalists should recall the lesson
of Deep Throat: that unless government is
completely transparent, anonymous sourc-
ing is often vital to finding the truth.
Critics of anonymous sourcing often
contend that such sources may have per-
sonal agendas, leaking information with
underhanded purposes like revenge or per-
sonal gain. Felt, who had a grudge against
the Nixon administration for not appoint-
ing him as J. Edgar Hoover's successor,
probably did not have pure motives in
leaking information to Woodward. But his
role was no less significant, as Woodward
used the information to reveal to the pub-
lic a truth that may have been suppressed
otherwise.
As Deep Throat demonstrated, anony-
mous sources with questionable motives
can be used by responsible and vigilant
reporters to the benefit of the public and
the truth. Despite public perceptions of the
media as inaccurate and frequent attacks
from people who would like to see seri-
ous journalism discredited, the American
press must not forget its role as a check
on government; journalists must contin-
ue holding officials accountable for their
actions. Mark Felt changed the American
press and politics forever, and his role in
Woodward and Bernstein's courageous
reporting should continue to stand as an
inspiring example of journalism's funda-
mental purpose.

The thumbs have it

Antonio
Villaraigosa
The Detroit
Zoo
Kwame
Kilpatrick ;

Villar + Raigosa= Villaraigosa. By merging his last name
with his wife's, the newly elected mayor of Los Angeles
found a compromise that's twice as unpronounceable but
12 times more progressive than hyphenating.
The zookeepers, largely Michigan State alumni, named
the zoo's new wolverine cubs Sparty and Bucky. Just
wait until they see what the University's classical stud-
ies department has in store.
Threatening to end Detroit's 46-year-old fireworks
celebration if the city council overrides your budget
veto is no way to start off a reelection campaign.
You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

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