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From the Editor’s Desk: Cooperation on both sides

10 February 2013 By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Editor-in-Chief No Comments

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, so let’s talk relationships. Not in the traditional, romantic sense, but professional relationships, specifically in the context of a student journalist.
A sneak peak: I’m writing a fairly in-depth piece about Towson’s relationship with the surrounding community, which involves several administrative interviews, as well as prominent figureheads in the greater Towson area. I conducted several of these interviews Friday afternoon, and was able to talk with the heads of the community association and the chamber of commerce. Both these individuals, despite their conflicting, hectic schedules spoke with me for 20+ minutes and were seemingly overjoyed to receive coverage of their respective entities.
I tried the same process with in-house administration.
To their credit, one or two individuals responded to arrange interviews. The remainder, however, did not, despite the multiple channels I pursued e.g. email and phone calls to cell and office.  I empathize that someone’s schedule may be full, but a 15-minute phone call or email does not require much energy, and makes everybody’s life easier. My job is to report accurately, and when I can include an administrative voice, I can produce a holistic article. Sometimes we print an article that administration says “misrepresents” the University—well, if you wanted your side told, allow us to tell it. Contact us.
I’ve reported at this University for nearly four years and I can say that though administration is fairly transparent, at times their communication skills are lacking.
A trend I’ve noticed is they tend to respond when we’re writing a piece on a new initiative or a positive item, they contact us, but when we need quotes, even for something rather trivial and might be a matter of expertise, a sudden meeting arises. This trend is reflected in multiple tiers of the University, and to avoid conflict, I will not cite specific instances or sects of campus, however, I would encourage some of our administration to foster a more open pathway of communication to not only our outlet, but the outside world.
When I interned at the Baltimore Sun, a public relations professional typically would return your phone call within the hour, not only to answer questions, but to provide background and ask if I needed anything. Administration here acts as public relations.
I’ve appreciated the leaders on campus who have reached out and forged a relationship, but others have been neglectful at best and spiteful at worst. You might not like everything we print. But if you attempt respect, we will return the favor.
My approach is that I will hear out anyone who presents me with a story, but for us to consider you, you must also consider us. Don’t force us to jump through hoops to cover your event, or force us to “prove” we’re from the Towerlight staff, don’t be blatantly rude in an email and above all, don’t ignore us.

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