Monday, January 29, 2007

Maybe I'm biased, but...

Michael Levandoski and all other Collegian readers who write letters to the editor criticizing the Collegian,

Thank you.

You not only read our newspaper, but you also have the initiative to write and tell us what you think of it.

You have knowledge of current events and you care about the world you live in.

You hold us accountable.

Seriously, thank you.

However, I do have a bone to pick with you – particularly those of you who accuse us of being "biased."

You’re right. The Collegian is biased, just like every other media outlet, organization, professor, student and human being.

You caught us – we’re human too.

And that means we are literally incapable of producing content free of bias.

Just like every artist is incapable of drawing a perfect circle or every teacher is incapable of inspiring all students to learn, we are incapable of achieving perfect objectivity.

That’s not what we’re complaining about, you say?

It’s the big stuff – the "liberal" bias that bugs you, right?

Fair enough. It’s true that some of the students who work at the Collegian lean to the left in their political ideologies.

It’s also true, however, that some of the students who work at the Collegian lean to the right.

I would estimate that we’re fairly representative of the Penn State student body in terms of the diversity of our politics.

We’ve got our weirdos; most of us are somewhere in the middle.

That leads me to address Mr. Levandoski’s specific gripe with the Collegian. Levandoski, in his
Jan. 24 letter to the editor "No coverage of march shows Collegian’s bias," accuses this newspaper of choosing not to run AP coverage of an anti-abortion march in Washington, D.C. because of our "clear bias."

Allow me to explain.

Our newspaper changes every day. Obviously, the news is different every day. But what you might not realize is that the space available for news content also changes every day.

Some days we have so much extra space that we have three or four pages of Associated Press content. Other days we little space and therefore no room for state, national and international news. We’re a local paper, so our emphasis is on local news.

However, when space allows, we do our best to give our readers the most important and relevant news from outside the borders of State College.

What’s my point, you say?

My point is simply that what you might think is a sign of clear bias may actually be a regular casualty of how newspapers operate.

Did we rationalize that an anti-abortion rally was not worthy of coverage in the Collegian because we disagree with that particular view? Heck no.

Lots of big news never finds its way into the Collegian’s pages. And it’s got nothing to do with bias.

So please continue to let us know when we screw up – maybe even when we do well.

But before you jump to conclusions, you need to understand how this place works.

Otherwise, you’re just biased.