Beacon and SGA: coming together

by Beacon Staff • April 18, 2007

But while our campus newspaper and student government don't always agree, a little effort toward harmony from both will go a long way. After working as sports editor for The Berkeley Beacon and serving as journalism senator for the Student Government Association (SGA), I should know.,It's not unusual for a government body and a news outlet not to be on the same page.

But while our campus newspaper and student government don't always agree, a little effort toward harmony from both will go a long way. After working as sports editor for The Berkeley Beacon and serving as journalism senator for the Student Government Association (SGA), I should know.

Because The Beacon is the only Emerson media outlet that covers the SGA on a regular basis, a natural friction is expected. While the paper has a responsibility to criticize the SGA, there are ways its staff could improve relations.

Despite sometimes popular belief, the SGA does do positive things for the Emerson community. Most of its members care about the school and want nothing more than the best for Emerson's students.

Rarely, however, are these positive things covered by The Beacon.

On the other hand, when the SGA makes a mistake, Beacon journalists are quick to print it in the newspaper.

This isn't because those at the paper necessarily have a vendetta or a bias against SGA members (although some surely do). Rather, reporters honestly feel it is their journalistic duty to publicize wrongdoings by their elected student body.

Many times, the positives are buried beneath the negatives, if they're reported at all.

The Beacon has historically always been open to criticism to anything it writes. After a while on its staff, one naturally develops thick skin.

But with so much criticism coming in, it is easy to block a lot of it out. Particularly when disapproval from the SGA or elsewhere is seen as whiny or nit-picky, legitimate complaints can sometimes go unheard by constantly berated editors.

As a former sports editor, I received my fair share of opposition. I listened to some and ignored others.

The criticism I valued was introduced in a certain respectful way, while that which amounted to little more than a resounding "you suck" was dismissed.

For their part, the SGA also has improvements to make in its relationship with The Beacon.

In a democracy, a person has a right to question its government. For the press, it's a duty.

At Emerson, it's the students who can-and should-question their elected officials.

Often, however, SGA members don't want to hear criticism. They are working hard to better the school and make sure everyone gets what they want.

It's a difficult task with inevitable stumbling blocks

So when The Beacon reports any setbacks, those in the SGA often get upset because they feel such reporting undermines their mission to better Emerson College.

While those at The Beacon have thick skin, it seems that those on the SGA sometimes do not and become upset by criticism.

As journalism senator, I remember being at hearings listening to people angrily complaining about how they were portrayed in Emerson's media outlets. After all, everyone wants to be in the newspaper, unless it's for something negative.

Although the relationship between these organizations is understandable, there are ways to work toward a more respectful tone.

Next September will see a new editor in chief of The Beacon and a new president of SGA. They should sit down together and find a middle ground.

It won't be easy, as there's a troubled history on both sides. As with anything on Emerson's campus, egos will certainly also come into play.

There will always be conflicting interests between the two organizations, but the two sides be more productive if they simply take the time to listen to one another.