Grand Valley’s on-campus student newspaper, The Lanthorn, published an article Monday, March 25, stating Grand Valley would be pulling out of the fundraising component of Battle of the Valleys.
After we read the article, we changed our Facebook cover photo to the “victory shot” of Student Association with the Old Vic trophy from last year’s BOV.
We did so because we knew our SVSU audience would appreciate the show of solidarity for an event the majority of our students and faculty support. We immediately received several likes, shares and comments.
We did not expect – nor did we receive – negative feedback from our readership. In fact, many SVSU staff, students and organizations began changing their cover photos to a BOV one, too.
Any troll-esque, meme-inspired comments left on our page were not directed at us. They were instead directed at GVSU’s student senate for voting to leave the BOV charity fundraiser.
This was not the case for GVSU’s campus paper, The Lanthorn. Nick Moran, the news editor who wrote the article, said The Lanthorn received several emails and social media comments saying their article wasn’t newsworthy since “no one cares” about BOV and that the article was too negative.
No one on The Vanguard editorial staff was surprised by this. We can relate.
As a campus paper, it is difficult to cover “controversial” stories that do not fit the pro-“insert school name here” mold. Like so many other campus newspapers, The Vanguard has covered the circumstances behind an administrator’s sudden resignation, a Title IX investigation into a former coach, NCAA infractions violations and more.
We assure you: We expected – and received – negative feedback on all of the above.
So, too, no one was surprised GV’s newspaper received criticism on its article. From the SVSU perspective, this may be puzzling. Why would the campus newspaper receive “hate” for something that wasn’t their fault? Shouldn’t GVSU students be mad at their student senate?
The answer is simple: GVSU cares a lot less about BOV than SVSU does.
Moran makes this point clear. Toward the end of his article, he quotes several students who hadn’t even heard of BOV. Moran on Tuesday, March 26, clarified to the Vanguard that he had spoken with about eight students in total, a majority of whom either hadn’t heard of BOV or didn’t care about it.
No matter if your student population is mad because they care “too little” or “too much” about something like BOV, the “shoot the messenger” phenomena leaves newspapers like The Vanguard or The Lanthorn at the receiving end of a lot of hate from students and staff alike.
Don’t get us wrong. No one on The Vanguard editorial staff is happy GVSU left the BOV charity competition. Given that we, like many other SVSU students and organizations, posted our BOV photo on our timeline (it’s still there, too), it seems pointless to pretend we are “neutral” on where we stand on GVSU’s student senate’s decision to leave BOV.
Rather than defend GVSU, The Vanguard defends The Lanthorn’s editorial decision to cover the story at all. While certainly not a “pro-GVSU” story, it was still major news, and The Lanthorn, as a student newspaper, had the duty to inform its students of news that pertains to them, even if it isn’t “good” news.
Every newspaper that has ever existed has gotten crapped on for publishing controversial news. Hence, the barrage of criticism directed at The Lanthorn.
The Lanthorn’s article served its purpose. SA President Caitlin Coulter told The Vanguard the GVSU state senate had not told SA about its decision; instead, SA learned about GVSU leaving BOV from the article, as did The Vanguard and most SVSU students. While no one on staff can know if all GVSU students learned they were leaving BOV from the article, we are sure at least a few did.
Thus, the article served the purpose of spreading relevant and timely news to its readership.
No matter how SVSU or GVSU students feel about The Lanthorn’s article, The Vanguard editorial staff stands by The Lanthorn’s decision to publish, even if we don’t stand by GVSU’s decision to leave BOV.
It may not have been the news anyone wanted to hear, but it was the news that needed to be reported.
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