Any person.
Any study.
Any Cornelliana.

An alumni
blog about Ezra's
University. (more)


Suggestions? Tips?




[+] Cornell News

[+] Higher Ed News

[+] Campus Pubs

[+] Alumni Interest

[+] Diversions

[+] Blogs

[+] Sports

[+] Other Places


[+] By Month

[+] By Author

What Should The Sun Cover?

The Sun reached an extraordinary milestone in its 127-year history this week, when it published an op-ed criticizing its news coverage -- by President David Skorton, who now writes a monthly column on the opinion page. Since the implosion of the noble Sun ombudsman in 2005, a few people have temporarily taken up the mantle of criticizing the paper they care about in its own pages -- me, for one, and just a couple of weeks ago, columnist Rob Fishman -- but never Cornell's president.

Skorton's criticism, delivered in soothing tones available only to the polished jazz flutist, gently wondered (not whined) whether The Sun should be opining on matters as weighty and complex as the College of Architecture, Art & Planning without reporting on it in the news pages first. He disregards the general separation between opinion and news in making the criticism but touches on an important point. Why hasn't the paper written any substantive coverage on the issues surrounding the college in recent memory? We've got a dispute with the city, students being relocated downtown, a proposed Milstein Hall with ballooning costs, a departing dean, and who knows what else. When I covered that beat, the big question was whether Provost Biddy Martin would divide the place up into separate departments. There's always something going on in Sibley Hall; why don't we know what's happening beyond official pronouncements and spin?

The larger question of what exactly The Sun is covering in its news pages was forced yesterday by a post on IvyGate implying that the paper has been "paraphrasing" articles from Inside Higher Ed in an attempt to "localize" them for the Ithaca campus. I wrote one of the pieces in question, and I noticed the Sun articles that were clearly inspired by them a couple of weeks later. What caught my attention at the time wasn't that the paper was looking for ideas at IHE (which many papers do, and I hope they continue to do), but that there was such a half-hearted attempt to adapt the themes to Cornell. When you try to localize a story but your Cornell sources tell you it doesn't really apply, they're negating the trend, as in this example about a professor who used Jon Stewart's America: The Book in class. ("Prof. Elizabeth Sanders, government, said that she would not use the book as an official text," but shockingly, students interviewed would.)

A paper's always going to need filler and opportunities for compets to write enough stories to make the news board. (Recent examples: "Groups Address African Flooding", "Museum Makes Science Fun for Everyone", the requisite annual Jim Maas sleep feature, "Students Hunger for Diversity") But instead of forcing stories that don't work, or cribbing ideas without developing them further, The Sun should look more into its own backyard. What are professors saying in the lounges at AAP? What kind of money is Cornell pulling in from its ventures in China? What's with the variable admit rates for men and women in these statistics?

In fact, enterprising Sun editors and reporters looking for story ideas could start right here. (As they sometimes do.) For almost two years, Matt has been pointing out (before anyone else) significant trends in Cornell's admissions race, financial aid, and endowment, not to mention a potentially budding fiasco with Milstein Hall. We try to elaborate on issues that are important to alumni, but they're important for those on campus, too -- and not nearly exhaustive. Who knows what revelations other investigations could yield?

Andy Guess | Posted on September 28, 2007 (#)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Other Recent Posts

-- WSJ: Cornell Wins NYC Tech Campus Bid (EBilmes)

-- Barrier Update: City Approves Nets (DJost)

-- Big Red Cymbal Guy (Nagowski)

-- New York Times Survey on Campus Recruiting is Flawed (KScott)

-- Barrier Update: Legal precedent suggests City of Ithaca will not be held liable for gorge suicide (DJost)

-- Despite MSG Loss, Big Potential for Big Red Hockey (EBilmes)

-- City Council Will Vote on Suicide Nets (DJost)

-- An Encounter on the Upper East Side (Nagowski)

-- Showing Off Your School Spirit (Nagowski)

-- Chipotle Ithaca? (KScott)

-- Cornell at the ING NYC Marathon (KScott)

-- Crossing Over a Fine Line: Commercial Activity on Campus (KScott)

-- Milstein's Downfall (Nagowski)

-- Can any Cornell-associated organization really be independent of the University? (Nagowski)

-- Slope Media Revisited (EBilmes)

-- Slope Media Group Approved for Byline Funding (KScott)

-- Occupy AEM? (KScott)

-- New campus pub to be good for both Greeks and non-Greeks (Nagowski)

-- Gagging the Election (Nagowski)

-- The Changing Structure of Rush Week (Nagowski)

-- Ivy League Humility in the Midwest (EBilmes)

-- Of Median Grades and Economics Minors (Nagowski)

-- Homecoming Recap (Nagowski)

-- My Cornell Bookshelf (Nagowski)

-- The Sun's Opinion Section Has Suddenly Gotten Good (Nagowski)

-- Remembering the 11th (Nagowski)

-- Cornellian Tapped as Top Economic Advisor (Nagowski)

-- Cutting Pledging, and the Good Which Comes With It (EBilmes)

-- Why Cornell Should Not Close Fall Creek Gorge (Nagowski)

-- Welcome to the Class of 2015 (Nagowski)