November 20, 2014

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A Call for Responsible Journalism

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To the Editor:

Re: “Employee Assembly Talks Turnover, Staff Complaints,” News, Nov. 20.

Responsible Journalism. What does that mean in a time when immediacy is the norm and success is determined by pageviews? Journalism is changing in format yet should not abandon its ethics. The Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics clearly states amongst its four principles of ethical journalism that journalists should “Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible” and “Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.” The Sun recently published an article on the latest Employee Assembly meeting that grossly violated this code.

While we are excited shared governance meetings are being covered by media outlets, we believe that any article, no matter how mundane to the author, should be approached with a responsibility to the nuance of the subject. The author of “Employee Assembly Talks Turnover, Staff Complaints” flippantly interchanges the terms “staff” and “faculty” in a way that ignores and undermines the identities, responsibilities and composition of each community and presents an article full of inaccuracies, misquotes and out-of-context information.

In fact, the Employee Assembly and Mary Opperman, vice president for human resources, work to advocate for staff interests in an effort to empower staff and improve the staff experience. Where VP Opperman and EA Member Michelle Stefanski-Seymour were quoted as commenting on faculty growth and programs at Cornell, they were actually commenting on initiatives for the more than 8,000 staff members working to keep the University operating on a daily basis. This community was profoundly affected by the economic downturn and yet continues to work every day to meet the new challenges Cornell, and higher education in general, face in this stiff economic climate.

We are disappointed The Sun did not contact individuals quoted in the article to clarify positions or to provide context in the broader scope of the quotations. For an organization that boldly claims independence since 1880, we did not see the responsibility that should accompany such freedom.

We expect better and the Cornell community deserves better.

Greg Mezey ’09

Chair, Employee Assembly

BJ R. Siasoco ’07

Executive Vice-Chair, Employee Assembly

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