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Story on Senior House switch to coke was not newsworthy, contained errors

Your Senior House article ["Coca-Cola replaces Pepsi in Senior House machine," Oct.8,] is, in addition to being misleading (and completely erroneous in one instance), certainly not worthy of being presented under the guise of a news article, even in a newspaper such as The Tech, one which I have less and less respect for every week.

The second headline of this article states "Senior House residents split over Coke's return," yet no evidence is given to support this. One resident did comment that "Some feel the situation in South Africa hasn't improved enough." This does not say anything about whether residents are for or against the return to Coke, only that some may be concerned about conditions in South Africa. These are two separate issues.

You also claim that "The general attitude of Senior House residents is indifference to the underlying politics of the recent decision." First of all, I question the validity of that statement, and I would like to know how many residents The Tech spoke with to arrive at such a conclusion. Secondly, the truth is that the decision was not a political one. Many residents, myself included, are unsure of what the actual involvements of the Coca-Cola and Pepsi companies are in South Africa, and question even further the effectiveness of a boycott as a contribution to the fight against apartheid. The decision to switch was primarily motivated by soda tastes.

Another error is the suggestion that the soft drinks are sold from a machine. They are not. While this mistake has little consequence, it is indicative of the carelessness with which the article was composed. The Tech clearly just assumed the soda was in a vending machine and did not put forth the minimal effort required to confirm this.

Finally, and most important, the article is of almost no interest to the MIT community. Those who do purchase soft drinks at the Senior House desk are most likely already aware of the switch. I would be surprised to find that people outside Senior House care at all what soda we sell. Coca-Cola products are sold in numerous locations throughout the Institute, so I doubt the article would cause a sudden interest in visiting Senior House, for the sole purpose of purchasing soda.

I can only infer from the article that The Tech either is suggesting that Coke tastes better than Pepsi, or that it is attempting to stir up some controversy by concluding that, because some of them drink Coke, Senior House residents do not care about world affairs. If your newspaper wishes to make an assertion about our political views, you should do so in an editorial, preferably one that is more carefully researched then the previous article.

A change in a dorm's soda tastes is not even the least bit newsworthy. Such trivial articles are appearing more and more frequently in The Tech. If The Tech cannot find news that is of some interest and consequence to even a small segment of the MIT community, perhaps it should simply reduce the size or frequency of the issues, until it can present material of a quality reflecting that of the Institute as a whole.

Jonathan M. Gladstone '92->

(Editor's Note: Please see the Response Line box on page 4 for more on the Senior House story.)

Z_Z_(Senior House Resident x5-6654) (and FlameCom chair)