Government run publications raise concerns over the use of power, posistion and student fees

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Kirsteen Wolf
The Broadside

Let’s talk in very clear terms about The Voice, a publication of your student government that just identified itself as a news magazine.

Here are the items of concern:

A government-run publication declaring itself as a source of news has a very bad reputation in most free, non-communist countries.
There is reason for this.

Citizens need to trust the news.

Governments print public relations bulletins all the time but they cannot be called news in good conscience.

While The Broadside recognizes the benefit of a clubs and programs newsletter, the recent redefinition of The Voice is a disturbing turn of events with the COCC student government.

The Voice is funded by student fees. It is run by some members of the council who also vote on its funding. It would be like the mayor’s office taking over The Bulletin with tax payer money and therefore having the ability to regulate the news to fit its needs.

There is a lack of an ethics policy as demonstrated in the last few issues of The Voice. For example: student fees paid for ASCOCC to hire a $200 per hour public relations consultant. The consultant’s daughter has written articles for The Voice about the work her mother was involved in.

In journalism,this is fundamentally wrong.

You cannot, with any journalistic integrity, write a story about a group that you are involved with or that your family is involved with without having a conflict of interest.

How can we check up on the student government and the way they have voted on issues? We can’t. They are not current with posting the minutes of their meetings to their COCC public folder.

The Broadside has been questioning the actions of the student government all year: payments to boyfriends, an $18,000 trip to D.C., questionable behavior and spending, law violations. It raises the question as to whether the campus community could count on The Voice for this kind of investigative work?

Finally, the students already fund The Broadside which had employed and trained hundreds of students over the last few years alone. Why make students pay for a government run news magazine?

The student government should work with this long standing COCC program instead of trying to compete with it. Will ASCOCC start their own culinary program and nursing program because they think they can do it better?

Considering these issues is fundamental to the health of our college and of deeper principles regarding the use of power, position and student fees.

Kirsteen Wolf can be reached at kwolf@cocc.edu

Elements from the American Society of Newspaper Editor’s code of ethics:

Responsibility. The primary purpose of gathering and distributing news and opinion is to serve the general
welfare by informing the people and enabling them to make judgments on the issues of the time. Newspapermen and women who abuse the power of their professional role for selfish motives or unworthy purposes are faithless to that public trust. The American press was made free not just to inform or just to serve as a forum for debate but also to bring an
independent scrutiny to bear on the forces of power in the society, including the conduct of official power at all levels of government.

Freedom of the Press. Freedom of the press belongs to the people. It must be defended against
encroachment or assault from any quarter, public or private. Journalists must be constantly alert to see that the public’s business is conducted in public. They must be vigilant against all who would exploit the press for selfish purposes.

Independence. Journalists must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety as well as any conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict. They should neither accept anything nor pursue any activity that
might compromise or seem to compromise their integrity.

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