“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” St. Matthew 7:5 provides us with sound advice. Before criticizing others, we should be aware of our own faults. I am not writing to claim perfection or to ascribe to others wickedness; I am writing to promote the truth.
I am a contributor at The Wake Forest Review. I have served in this capacity for well over a year, and I must admit that I do not agree with every article and editorial published. There are, of course, sound criticisms of The Review, just as there are sound criticisms of any organization involved in writing and news. However, the article that ran in The Old Gold & Black on March 15 misses the mark. I am, of course, referring to Kory Riemensperger’s “The Wake Forest Review practices poor journalism.”
If research and accurate reporting are a core aspect of journalism, the aforementioned article at one point cannot even hit the side of a barn. Contrary to Riemensperger’s claim, The Wake Forest Review does publish a print copy. The Review publishes multiple print copies a year. However, The Review, in line with twenty-first century realities, publishes very few print copies and focuses on its online venture. This makes The Review more cost-efficient, environmentally friendly and easier to read. Fortunately, we do not overprint copies and have them collect dust in stacks after never being read. While I wish we still lived in the age of ink and paper, print is dead and the screen is our gloomy future. A good example of the death of print on our very own campus is the fate of the Academic Bulletin. Implicitly attempting to undermine a news organizations’ credibility due to its online nature is similar to a town crier saying that they, not the new-fangled newspapers, are the only trustworthy source of information and news.
Another flaw in Riemensperger’s article is that he uses one Review article in order to criticize The Wake Forest Review. Toward the end of the article, he decrees that it “should immediately cease all claims to [its] status as a journalistic enterprise until such time that a member with extensive journalism experience holds a position on [The Review’s] board or is able to reasonably contribute to [its] editing process” since “there is a dire need for such reform.” Cherry-picking one controversial article and ignoring the book reviews, movie reviews, et cetera published in “The Independent Newspaper at Wake Forest University” does not demonstrate that it needs reform; it does not even demonstrate that there is a large problem within the organization. At the worst, this example demonstrates that the article itself is flawed. Furthermore, Riemensperger does not attempt to rebuke the facts of “Wake Forest Declines to Enforce Harassment Policies for a Conservative Student.” His attacks are either geared toward the paper at large or possible stylistic problems within the article.
If, however, we are to tell organizations that they are not engaged in journalism if they run a flawed article or make mistakes, are there any endeavors to be considered to be journalistic in nature? As mentioned earlier, The Old Gold & Black ran an article with a factual error. They also referred to me as “charming and gregarious” last year. Do these two mistakes render them illegitimate as well? Both organizations (and most news organizations), overall, are good and correct their mistakes. They learn from experience. One should refrain from using local incidents to infer a global problem.
My final problem with Riemensperger’s article is his accusation that The Wake Forest Review “confuses entertainment for journalism.” I agree with Riemensperger’s implied belief that news and entertainment should be separated. The Review, while it has flaws, does not confuse journalism with entertainment. Appearing on a television show with viewers across these U.S. to discuss a news story is not confusing the two. One could, with great power, argue that a story involving an incident at Wake Forest is not worthy of making the national news, but that is a criticism of our around-the-clock news-industrial complex, not of the article or of the paper. Riemensperger, however, did not discuss the problem with having a 24-hour news cycle. Interesting stories are needed to fill up airtime, even if they lack national significance, and Wolfe’s story is definitely interesting. Carlson did not invite him on the air because The Review is filled with entertainers; he invited Wolfe on the air because of the journalistic work of The Review. The Review encourages and expects its managing editors, associate editors, vice presidents, and humble contributors to always act in a professional and honorable fashion. The Review does not confuse entertainment with journalism.
The Wake Forest Review, like The Old Gold & Black, is a legitimate news organization, not to be treated like criminals.