Ask a fifth-year: defending journalistic integrity

Evan Williams

(Drawing by Annie Raccuglia)

Dear Evan,

Last year, Drew Baumgartner used this column to promote his composition recital. Do you think this was a good idea?



Holy conflict of interests, Batman! Yes, I do recall that article last year, and I found it totally inappropriate. On the weekend of his recital, Drew used this very column to present a thinly-veiled promotion for his senior composition recital. While I myself have a senior composition recital this weekend — Saturday, March 5 at 3 p.m.— I would never use this column to promote it.

Anyone who works in any kind of news organization, especially a college paper, should not use their soapbox to promote themselves. For example, if I were to spend this entire article talking about my recital, like the fact that it will feature the talents of 15 Lawrentians, including a recent graduate, that would be out of line.

People read this column because they sincerely value my take on the important issues that concern Lawrentians, such as how to get away with spreading rumors. I must be completely selfless, despite the fact that this Saturday will be the culmination of my five years of composition training at Lawrence.

Mr. Baumgartner’s article featured a question from a student who just happened to have a recital at the same exact time and place as his own. This action prompted outrage on campus, culminating in a large silent protest in Harper Hall during the recital. The protesters only cheered and applauded after each piece to show their anger at Drew’s abuse of his position as a journalist.

I stand with these protesters — and to honor their valiant efforts, I encourage Lawrentians to hold a similar protest this Saturday at 3 p.m. in Harper Hall. Although Drew is no longer at Lawrence, this protest is absolutely necessary, and we need as many Lawrentians as possible to come and pack the hall. After this protest, there will be a tasty reception provided by my mother.

While I was sincerely disappointed with Drew’s use of the “Ask a fifth-year” column, I was confused why he thought he needed it. Everyone loved Drew and his recital was very well attended. Even though he didn’t have a Facebook account, and couldn’t create an event for his recital like most people do, a friend and fellow composer was so devoted to his music that he made an event page for Drew.

Drew would have had no trouble filling the hall for his recital. I, on the other hand have many things working against me. There are five other recitals on Saturday, a Symphonic Band/Wind Ensemble concert that night, plus a play going on at the exact same time. I’ll be lucky if anyone comes to hear dreaded “new music!”

Despite all of that, I will not use this column to solicit people to come to my recital. In fact, you shouldn’t come to my recital on Saturday at 3, instead come to the protest on Saturday at 3 in Harper Hall. That is how dedicated I am to the cause of journalistic integrity!

So if you believe — as I do — that The Lawrentian should be only be a forum for sincere and serious dialogue about the issues that concern us as students, come support the fight for true journalism at 3 p.m. Saturday at Harper Hall.