The RECORD’s purpose is straightforward. We work to inform, to challenge and to entertain. We hope to facilitate communication among students, faculty and staff. We struggle to remind readers that reasonable people can disagree about — and intelligently discuss — fundamental subjects.
At times, the RECORD’s goals exceed the abilities of its staff, a group composed of people who are law students first and journalists second. Sometimes we screw up.
One of those times was last week, when we ran a front-page news story titled, “Conflict strikes close to home,” about a visiting fellow’s allegations that Israeli forces had threatened to blow up his home.
When we edited the story, we attempted to make the sources of the information as obvious as possible so that readers could evaluate their reliability for themselves. Our understanding was then — and is now — that the story had been verified by two members of the HLS faculty and by the U.S. State Department. Based on that information, we believed the story was dependable enough to run.
But what we did not know when we made that decision was that the reporter who wrote the article is a member of Justice for Palestine, a student organization active in debates about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Although we do not currently have any information indicating that the story was erroneous, we would not have run the article had we known of the reporter’s affiliation.
In journalism, the appearance of bias is often as damaging as the real thing. One of the most widely accepted rules of reporting is that individuals should not be covering issues in which they might be perceived to have a personal stake. That rule is a hard and fast one, and the fact that we would have enforced it in no way implicates the actual ability of this reporter to cover this story in an unbiased manner.
Although we make mistakes, this year I have witnessed a dedicated and talented group of students working through late nights and over countless cartons of Chinese takeout to turn the RECORD into an organization that adds something to the HLS community.
While many may not see a broader social purpose to what we do, I strongly believe the RECORD has a lot to give to the Law School, and I believe that journalists have a lot to give the world. Whether or not we at the RECORD achieve that, however humbly, I don’t know. What I do know is that the people I’ve met in this organization have made my experience at HLS immeasurably better.
Among the many who deserve my applause are Liza Brann and Jason Blackstone. Though they receive little glory, Liza and Jason have kept the business side of the RECORD running like clockwork and tirelessly handled all crises. With their partnership, running the RECORD has been almost easy. It has also been a pleasure working with Vijay Palaniswamy, who managed to learn all there is to know about newspaper production under extreme time pressures.
Even so, one of the greatest thrills of any responsibility is relinquishing it!
It is with great pride that Liza, Jason and I turn over the RECORD to the capable leadership of Jonas Blank, Mike Wiser and Pantea Yashar.
Jonas, who is taking over the position of Editor-in-Chief, joined our staff last fall after stints with FHM Magazine and four years at the Duke University student newspaper. Jonas is a true journalist and has impressed us with his talent for reporting and writing.
Mike, who has put in countless hours writing news stories as the paper’s Executive Editor, is taking on the responsibilities of Publisher. He has displayed an unstoppable dedication to the paper and its traditions.
Pantea will be serving as the RECORD’s Business Manager. Through her work as this year’s Forum Editor, Pantea has demonstrated a unique talent for managing others that will serve her well in her new position.
I have every confidence that Jonas, Mike and Pantea have the skill, dedication and judgment to do amazing things with this newspaper, and I congratulate them on their new responsibilities.
During many late RECORD nights over the past three years, I’ve laughed until I’ve cried, gotten incredibly bad dating advice and eaten more junk food than ever before. I will miss it.