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Letter: The Herald must appoint a public editor

To the Editor:

In the wake of the Providence Journal’s exposé of Martin Granoff’s P ’93 exclusive dinners, numerous students took to the Dear Blueno Facebook page to criticize The Brown Daily Herald — the supposed premier source for news about Brown — for missing the scoop. One anonymous Dear Blueno post (authored by a person claiming to have attended the dinner) suggested that The Herald may have not reported on the dinners earlier because members of their own senior staff were attendees. These criticisms were absent from The Herald’s own vox pop reporting on the dinners, and the accusation of a conflict-of-interest remains unanswered. Ultimately, whether these criticisms of The Herald are well-founded is immaterial; by remaining silent on these concerns, The Herald implicitly confirms the community’s very worst prejudices. So long as The Herald lacks the trust of the community, it will be a second choice venue for compelling student journalism.

To regain the community’s trust, The Herald must commit itself to greater transparency. I urge The Herald to appoint a public editor: a dedicated advocate for The Herald’s readership whose purpose is to report on The Herald’s own journalistic practices. This editor would hear any credible concerns raised by The Herald’s readership during office hours, speak with The Herald’s staff and report their findings in a feature on the editorial page (regardless of whether the concerns turned out to be well-founded). Additionally, the public editor could provide the readership with a fly-on-the-wall view of The Herald’s journalistic operations. For instance, The Herald may have sensible internal policies that would preclude it from publishing the sort of exposé that appeared in the Journal. A public editor could communicate the value and tradeoffs of these policies.

In appointing a public editor, The Herald will be a more attractive outlet for both readers and writers. As an avid reader of The Herald, I hope this is the very last time it misses the scoop.

John Wrenn GS


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