Letter to the Editor: The next four years won’t be different

College newspapers are supposed to be laboratories for experimenting with news, giving student journalists the opportunity to hone their craft.

Since they are the future of news, I get disappointed when they adopt the same way of thinking from a generation that is struggling with the duty my peers will soon take up.

I felt some of that disappointment when I read The Maroon’s editorial from their first issue, primarily because there is nothing new or insightful about their argument that facts should be verified before being published.

It is convenient, however, for legacy media to make the arguments The Maroon made because it reasserts their dominance over the conversation.

While the editorial board took aim at Buzzfeed for publishing a document with unverified information about Trump, they neglected to acknowledge even more egregious examples of legacy media failures, perhaps in part because they adopted the same uninventive way of thinking.

When CNN broke the news that Trump was briefed about the dossier, they declined to report what the allegations against him were on the grounds that they couldn’t be verified. This left it to the public imagination to dream up what this alleged Russian dirt on Trump was and how that could be used to control him (which is reminiscent of the New York Times misleading the world about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq).

CNN’s story also gave the impression that since the FBI briefed Trump on that dirt, it is authentic and should be elevated above the level of gossip. That is a dangerous combination of impressions to give the public.

Buzzfeed did a valuable journalistic service by ending that speculation and showing everyone how farcical this document was.

In other words, CNN’s decision was the logical consequence of The Maroon’s editorial argument, which was in need of correction by other journalists.

Also worth mentioning is the Washington Post – where The Maroon sports an alumna – publishing a story in late December claiming that Russia hacked into the US electric grid.

Not only did they fail to contact the electric company to confirm that – the company issued a statement contradicting the central claim of the article – but the post issued a full-scale retraction of the story several days later.

When one of the largest and most respected newspapers in the world makes an allegation against another country’s government, it should be done carefully and accurately.

This story is the epitome of unverified facts and fake news – propaganda, even – but apparently isn’t worth comment in an editorial about responsible media.

If that’s because of The Maroon’s allegiance to old media and old ways of thinking about news, I wonder how different the next four years will be.