Occupy ELAC protesters fail to understand journalism ethics

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.

This article has 3 Comments

  1. Oh boy, I like this quote, “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.” and as a former ELAC writer-turned-blogger/Mike Malloy Show contributor/Occupier who stayed out of jail know Jean and is indebted to her for teaching me how to write. And, to know what an opinion is (Ask her about the former President and libel). Yet the comment “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.” may seem a little harsh but it is an opine. So let me turn this virtual opine back to you and ask you [“…to grow up.”]

    Do you know what Occupy is about? The origins? The history? The roots of Occupation? Allow me to guess what you may think: New York? Uh, no. Lets see, Wisconsin? Wrong again. The most famous Occupation in U.S. history was the Bonus Army. Ask your history professor. As a matter of fact, ask Jean…she’ll know, but she may even tell you to look it up. Well no worries, allow me to do your work:

    Frank Rich: Bonus Army Fiasco Like Occupy Oakland

    The Bonus Army consisted of 17,000 World War I veterans and their families who occupied Washington, D.C., in 1932. They requested early payment of their bonuses because of the dire straights of many due to the depression. Congress had originally promised the bonus be paid in 1945.

    Even the very popular Marine Corps General Smedley Butler visited the camps to encourage them and lend his prestige. However, in July U.S. Attorney General William D. Mitchell ordered the veterans removed. President Herbert Hoover ordered Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur to drive out The Bonus Army.
    History Marches On & Repeats Itself

    General MacArthur, supported by six battle tanks commanded by Maj. George S. Patton, charging cavalry, infantry with fixed bayonets, and chemical vomiting agents (these sensory irritants irritate the mucous membranes to produce congestion, coughing, sneezing, and eventually nausea.) The troops charged into the camps to disperse the veterans, wives, and children while burning their shelters and belongings.

    Like the Bonus Army, OccupyELAC as well as the rest of the Occupiers in the U.S. stepped out of their apartments and lost their rent, many were victims of Gramm Leach Bliley and lost their homes, while few like me taught younger adults the history of the U.S. and went home to go to work. We took our time out of our lives to make sure that people like you Augustine can have a place to write your opinion. Do you REALLY think that because of your good deeds, your writing skills can launch you to the big times news forum like A.P. or The Los Angeles Times? I don’t think so. Why? Because, your critique of OWSELAC lacked any substance

    Yes, it would be helpful if OWSELAC took a J-1 class, but more so as a reporter who took J-1, where is the follow-up on the conflict of interest story regarding the former president and his role with the construction? If true, felony charges can be filed, because public funds were used.

    Also, what do all these OWSELAC students have in common with their gripe? They want tuition reduced or eliminated. Can you tell me the reason tuition went skyrocketing? OccupyELAC can and guess what? They’re correct. How do I know? Ask your poli-sci prof.

    So yes, maybe OWSELAC should take a class on journalism, but maybe before you start criticizing a movement politics for doing its role in the field of politics, you read up on the history and goals of groups like OWSELAC. Honestly? I can get thousands of Occupiers to pen their opine about why they’re doing what they are doing. Maybe I will, but I hope there is enough bandwidth to sustain the amount of text posted by Occupiers as well as folks in solidarity to OWS.

    Because, without facts backing up your opinion, then what then is the difference between you and Fox News? They’re paid.

  2. Hello again. I thought I dredge up something that is pertinent to all forms of free speech as well as, let’s see, journalistic free speech? And that my dear journalists is SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261)) and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (S.968 )). On the surface, these two bills seem innocuous. Yes, artists, scientists, musicians and so on must protect their copyrighted/Trademark works, and no one is against laws. As a matter of fact, there are enough laws to put the fear of God into someone or face fines and imprisonment. But SOPA and PIPA are different. SOPA and PIPA is extremely vague and without due process (you know, the Fifth Amendment?) corporations can shut down or implement DNS blocking from any computer (DNS works as a sort of “phone book” for the internet. When a user types a URL into a browser, DNS helps the users’ computer find and speak with the correct server hosting the content that the user wants to access.)So by typing: elaccampusnews(dot)com, I Can go to your site and read the C.N. For now.
    Now say that a reporter types a sentence and a corporation (supporter of SOPA and PIPA) were to say that Augustine Ugalde typed, “Any breach of this ethical standard would result in the prompt dismissal of the reporter, editor or photographer from CN.” Because this is such a general sentence, I’m sure somewhere in the ether, it is copy-written. Under SOPA and PIPA, the author or corporation can sue Ugalde, Campus News, Jean, ELAC and the LACCD, shut down Campus News, fine and imprison the offender…scary, huh? Question: I am surprised no one covered this story, yet do you know there was a group on campus that defended your rights to print journalism? That was OccupyELAC. The same people for whom you told…”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.” They did, they saw the threat and stood up to the corporations.

    In closing, Ugalde, before you criticize the Occupiers, do some searching deep inside your soul and (that goes with all the C.N. reporters at ELAC) know that your right to free speech is only as guaranteed so long as your voices are heard and people react. Keep it silent and watch your freedom go bye.

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