ErratumThe measure of the quality of a newspaper is in what it publishes, and the staff of the newspaper must recognize that the quality of content takes precedence over any personal disputes within the organization. That commitment of putting the content first is what it means to be accountable to our readers.
The decision of the managing board of The Tech to impeach John Hawkinson from the position of ombudsman is a step backwards in that regard. The ombudsman is the liaison between The Tech and its readers, an outsider to the institution charged with understanding and representing the readers’ interests and concerns. He or she acts as a powerful check against the failings or malfeasance of editors and staff, effectively condensing our notion of responsibility to 9,000 often anonymous readers into one person.
However, a newspaper must be staffed by people, who ultimately are critically dependent upon the environment in which they work. It is unfortunate that the criticism that The Tech has faced from the ombudsman, often valid, has also seriously undermined the productive atmosphere necessary for the organization to function effectively. Over the past few months the situation has decayed to the point where a number of the most senior members are no longer able to respond constructively to issues raised by the ombudsman. More recent events created a crisis potentially costing The Tech the membership of its executive board and possibly that board’s future membership as well, and it was this situation which led to John Hawkinson being impeached.
The Tech’s most recent attempt to fill the ombudsman position, only the second in the newspaper’s history, has proved highly detrimental to the future of the publication. This is disappointing because John has also brought significant benefits to the quality of The Tech, from its news coverage to the accountability of its editing decisions. The Tech has retained the position of the ombudsman, and many members of the managing board recognize the benefits an ombudsman can bring, especially under a more clearly defined statement of his or her privileges and responsibilities.
A final consequence of the recent situation was the resignation of Brian Loux ’04 from the position of editor in chief, in protest of the self-destructive and political nature of recent days. Beckett W. Sterner ’06, previously the news and features director, was elected as the new editor in chief to fill the vacant position.
In the days ahead, The Tech must seek to return to its primary goal of publishing a newspaper while enacting an even greater effort at self-vigilance. It is inexcusable for The Tech to even temporarily abandon its goal of striving to improve itself, and as our readers you should demand nothing less. The printed word, and not personal disputes, is what must now return to and remain in the heart of what we do.
-- The Executive Board
Hangyul Chung ’05, Chairman
Beckett W. Sterner ’06, Editor in Chief
Roy Esaki ’04, Business Manager
David Carpenter’05, Managing Editor