By Joel Wass
As Editor-in-Chief I would like to inform our loyal readers–or at least loyal readers of this column–The Eyeopener will not be covering this year’s RyeSAC election.
We will not be mentioning candidate names, platforms or even the date of the election. No coverage at all.
Why the sudden shift from borderline excessive coverage during past elections to zilch this year? Two reasons.
One: As one third of last year’s Eyeopener news team I worked my ass off trying to make our RyeSAC elections stories interesting. From reporting on the effectiveness of campaign signs to revealing a certain vice presidential candidate’s striking resemblance to Hollywood character actor Phillip Seymour-Hoffman, we did our darndest to liven up the campaign.
And the result of our hard work? Voter turnout increased by a measly five votes and the percentage of students who cast ballots (approximately 11 per cent) actually dropped from the previous year.
Candidate Carlos Flores lost the presidential race, but student apathy left me feeling like a loser, too.
The second reason our paper is ignoring the election is because I am convinced the media is incapable of covering an election the way Fox News claims to cover all of its news stories–“fair and balanced.”
A 2004 study by the PEW Research Center found only 38 per cent of Americans think media election coverage is free from bias, down from 62 per cent in 1987.
Canadian journalists pride themselves on having more journalistic integrity than our southern neighbours, but then how do you explain the National Post?
Even Canada’s crown jewel of journalism, the CBC, is criticized for being blatantly biased towards the Liberal Party. Considering the Federal government helps fund the broadcasting corporation and the Liberals have been in power 37 of the past 53 years, is it really surprising they might favour the party that’s usually signing the cheques?
Instead of allowing young Eyeopener reporters to become partisan hacks, our paper is admitting we can’t do our job fairly. Sure, the absence of traditional left-wing and right-wing slates in this year’s election would indicate The Eyeopener couldn’t merely favour the side that shares a similar political ideology.
But what if I decide we should favour a certain candidate because they’re polite to me in the hallway or because they have a flattering picture on a poster? I’ve acted that shallow before–a Nov. 3 column about the rising cost of veggie dogs comes to mind. Of course, if you read our candidate profiles, you’ll know that I’m bluffing about ignoring the election.
I wish I was being just as sarcastic about media biases during elections. It’s a stinging reality to know the majority of the public doubts our ability to cover an election objectively.
One of journalism’s highest responsibilities is to insure the voting population is well-informed. It’s sobering to know most people doubt it can be done properly. We try to be as professional as possible at The Eyeopener, but maybe covering elections is an occassion where our amateur status works to our advantage.
There is no political puppet pulling our strings and the funding we get comes out of student tuition. So if you don’t think we are doing our job fairly, let us know about it.
I should also clarify that there was also an element of truth in my frustration with the 90 per cent of the student population that doesn’t vote.
But don’t worry, knowing the propaganda we produced got Dave MacLean elected is all the…wait, we’re trying to be an unbiased paper. Sorry, this is going to be hard.