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Letter to the Editor: Order article violates journalistic standards

BY STEPHANIE STEINBERG

Published April 12, 2012

As the former editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, I am deeply disappointed by The Statement story published in Wednesday's edition of the paper. When approached about the story in January, I was told the story would discuss what Order of Angell has done on campus since the organization has become more transparent and would include interviews with several members of our organization. The writer did neither of those things in her article. Instead, the reporter misled me and other sources by misrepresenting what her story was about. While I know from experience that story angles often evolve before publication, it is against journalistic ethics to mislead sources about the angle of a story. Seven other current members of Order of Angell were interviewed for the article and told the reporter about work the organization has done this year — including fostering leadership development for students in the third annual Leaders For Life event, starting an annual scholarship for campus leaders and raising more than $3,000 for Relay For Life. And though the reporter told several individuals that the story would focus on this work, the writer only included one sentence about some of the initiatives toward the end of the piece.

I do not deny that Order of Angell has a controversial past. However, by simply rehashing that past and not providing any new facts or information about the group, the story fails to offer any real value. In addition, the article was clearly biased. By omitting several interviews from members who discussed their involvement in the organization and what the group does today, the writers and editors framed the story in a way meant to discredit the organization.

While the piece also personally attacks me by questioning my ethics and editing practices, I would like to point out the conflict of interest for those who wrote and edited the story. Dylan Cinti, a co-managing editor of The Statement, has been an outspoken critic of Order of Angell in the past. Though this vocal criticism demonstrates a bias against the organization, he edited and contributed reporting to the story. This is a clear violation of journalistic ethics, and other editors who knew of his bias should have intervened.

I will always hold the Daily in high regard, and I do believe it's very important to have rigorous debates about potential conflicts of interest, but I am saddened to see that one of the best college newspapers in the country overtly ignored the journalistic principles of objectivity and fairness in publishing this piece.

Stephanie Steinberg
LSA senior and former editor in chief of The Michigan Daily