By Augustine Ugalde
After receiving numerous complaints about an opinion piece directed toward the Occupy ELAC movement, it became clear that the protesters need to be educated about journalistic ethics. Campus News, the journalism department and I have come under heavy criticism for the opinions I expressed regarding some of the protester’s demands.
The protesters took their complaints personally, by visiting CN to protest, submitting letters to the editor, posting on CN’s Facebook page, as well as their own. A comparison was made between CN and the Fox News Network, stating that CN is biased, elitist, one-sided and that we should be backing the protesters, not bashing them.
The language used to advance their protests was less than complimentary. All this anger coming out of the movement’s leadership has provided me with a great deal of insight into the minds of the protesters. The movement also needs to get educated on the different facets of a news publication.
The story that generated a negative backlash was an opinion piece, not a news story and it was solely my opinion, not that of CN. Had it been the opinion of CN, it would have appeared as an editorial piece with no writer name attached to it. This story clearly had the writer’s name clearly attached to it.
The accusation that CN is Fox-like is just ridiculous. If any angry protester were to ever bother to look into the journalism department’s infrastructure, it would find Department Chair, Jean Stapleton at the core.
Stapleton would never allow a student journalist to report on any campus club, department or group he or she is affiliated with because of newsroom ethics. By “backing” the Occupy ELAC movement, any CN reporter would be violating the conflict of interest clause that every journalist ascribes to.
Any breach of this ethical standard would result in the prompt dismissal of the reporter, editor or photographer from CN. Fox News unethically and “backs” its constituents; CN does not.
What Occupy ELAC may not realize is that CN is one of the oldest, most respected, community college newspapers in the country. It has also won its share of general excellence awards from the Journalism Association of Community Colleges, an organization that includes nearly all 600-plus community colleges in California. Its ethical standards will not be compromised; not with Stapleton at the helm. CN dates back to the early 1940s, which predates most Occupy ELAC members by at least half a century.
It would serve the occupiers well if they would think before throwing out emotionally-charged, off-base accusations toward CN just because they don’t agree with one person’s opinion. I stand by my original work. The Occupy ELAC demands are too extreme. Free education is a thing of the past.
Today’s fiscal realities call for an amended list of demands that are more realistic and that may actually have a chance to become reality. The “I can’t take any criticism whatsoever” generation must realize that life is not neat and that it will present unexpected obstacles along the way. It seems that the protesters have forgotten about the free education they have already received called K – 12.
Asking for complete forgiveness for all student loan balances is unrealistic. Entering into a financial agreement is not reversible because of inconvenience. Students who take student loans should pay them back.
It’s time Occupy ELAC puts their big boy and big girl pants on and develop a sense of responsibility and do the right thing. This is the real world not high school; it’s time to grow up.