The Harvard Crimson on Journalism

Angela N. Fu and Kristine E. Guillaume:

A few days after the event, Act on a Dream and others expressed disagreement with The Crimson’s request for comment to ICE. It is our practice to meet with student groups whenever they have questions or concerns about our coverage, and — as a result — we contacted Act on a Dream shortly after seeing their criticisms on social media. We met with them to listen to their concerns and share our perspective by explaining our policies and the fundamental journalistic principles behind them.

A week later, Act on a Dream published a petition calling on The Crimson to change its policies so that it never contacts ICE for comment again and apologize for the “harm [it] inflicted on the undocumented community.” In this, the organization has called on other student groups to boycott speaking to The Crimson until the paper complies with their demands.

At stake here, we believe, is one of the core tenets that defines America’s free and independent press: the right — and prerogative — of reporters to contact any person or organization relevant to a story to seek that entity’s comment and view of what transpired. This ensures the article is as thorough, balanced, and unbiased toward any particular viewpoint as possible. A world where news outlets categorically refuse to contact certain kinds of sources — a world where news outlets let third-party groups dictate the terms of their coverage — is a less informed, less accurate, and ultimately less democratic world.