On Oct. 11, the Stony Brook College Republicans released a letter on their Facebook page claiming liberal bias in The Statesman’s News section.
The letter was published in response to an article the paper published about democratic congressional candidate Perry Gershon’s outreach to Stony Brook students.
The Statesman wholeheartedly denies any accusations of political bias within its News section, but in an attempt to be as transparent as possible, we would like to address some of the College Republicans’ concerns.
This article came to be because a representative from Gershon’s campaign inquired if one of our writers would be interested in sitting down for an interview with the candidate. Since Gershon is running for a national office that holds authority over Stony Brook University, we naturally accepted the offer.
Rather than settle for a simple profile on Gershon — which is a standard practice for newspapers of all sizes — The Statesman reached out to the campaign of Gershon’s opponent, incumbent Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, to try and give readers a more complete picture of the race in New York’s 1st congressional district.
In their letter, the College Republicans assert that The Statesman has neglected to cover the congressman’s appearances on campus while providing his opponent with undue media attention.
Any group or individual has the ability to submit a request for coverage to The Statesman’s News section, just as Gershon’s campaign did.
Without prior knowledge of events like Zeldin’s appearances on campus, it is extremely difficult to muster the resources required to produce a publishable piece, whether in-depth or simply event coverage. Editors need to pitch the assignment, and the reporters and photographers who accept it need to clear their schedules and adequately prepare to do their job.
This advanced knowledge is particularly important for a student newspaper, whose limited, unpaid staff have academic, occupational and personal concerns to balance out with their drive to produce content. Full-time reporters might be able to drop everything to cover this area’s congressional representative; we oftentimes cannot.
Our coverage of Gershon, on the other hand, has remained purely objective, and demonstrates none of the preference we were accused of possessing for Zeldin’s challenger. The news article in question includes quotes that are critical of Gershon to prevent the coverage from being too one-sided. The writer also notes that all but one of the students they approached for man-on-the-street interviews had never heard of Gershon.
It is not The Statesman’s job to produce news pieces favorable to any side or viewpoint. We will continue to fulfill our goal of informing the campus community about issues and individuals that are relevant to them just as we always have.