Although I practice law these days, at one time, I was an editor of my high school paper, and during my freshman year at Vassar, I was a reporter for The Miscellany News. In those “journalism days,” I learned that articles are supposed to be inclusive and report what actually happened—not merely an author’s “angle.” With that in mind, I was disappointed to read the recent feature article, “IS trip sparks tension, debate on VC campus,” Perhaps both the article’s author and the editors assumed that, because they described it as a “feature” article, this gave them license to omit important factual details, thereby painting an inaccurate picture of what took place. But neither responsible journalism nor responsibility in life indulges the creation of an inaccurate picture by means of omission, as did the recent article.
The article purported to describe the March 3 public forum held by the Committee on Inclusion and Excellence (“inclusion” is an ironic title under the circumstances) to discuss the then upcoming International Studies trip to the Middle East. Although Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) reaction was described—including SJP’s accusation that it was being targeted because of its protests—remarkably, the article made no mention of the bullying of proIsrael students who attended the forum. One might conclude that the authors innocently overlooked the issue, i.e., that perhaps the bullying of proIsrael students at the forum was insignificant, but that is not credible in view of the fact that such bullying received widespread coverage in news publications and in articles in Commentary, the Jerusalem Post, Professor Jill Schneiderman’s blog and the reputed antiIsrael blog Mondoweiss (described by some as a proBDS website ). Such “selective” journalism failed to transmit an accurate picture of what happened at the forum, and it can only be described, most charitably, as shoddy. Otherwise, even worse, it served as a vehicle for promulgating an undisclosed—but obvious—agenda. Either way, it is unbefitting of Vassar.
—Jane Cohen Bergner, Esq. 1964