To the Editors,
I’m disturbed at the unfair way the Orient handled its news article on the recent NAS study. As loaded as you may have found the report, there was a better and more responsible way to cover it than the thinly-disguised opinion item by Linda Kinstler and Marisa McGarry.
The editors should have caught the bias in the third and fourth paragraphs that skews the entire story and raises questions about the Orient’s fairness and commitment to reporting objectively. If Ms. Kinstler and Ms. McGarry wanted to write a column, they should have. Otherwise, as reporters, hold your own views in check as you report the story of the “nine-iron shot heard ‘round the world.”
As a working journalist and newspaper columnist for the past two decades, I understand how charged the atmosphere can become when an institution you love or believe in comes under attack. When I wrote my “Fire at Will” column for the Orient back when Barry Mills was in short pants, I faced constant criticism from classmates and outsiders who called me names or labeled me as a racist or, worse, (gasp!) a conservative.
At times like that, best to heed Colin Powell’s advice and avoid “getting the vapors.” Especially in a situation like this, where you have an eminent institution with a long history, a longer waitlist and a billion-dollar endowment, the republic still stands. Set emotion aside and lead the discussion from a more-measured perspective. Live blogs, live chats and social media campaigns are all great ways to engage the Bowdoin community, and I hope the Orient is doing so. Create the forum. Let all sides air their views. Play the referee, but don’t let unlabeled opinion creep into and tarnish news coverage.
As far as the NAS report goes, did any of us, when we got our Bowdoin acceptance letters, think we were going to an institution known for its powdered wigs and conservatism? I have hired and regularly interview recent Bowdoin alums for jobs in the news business. Everyone gets a fair shake in the process, but I am always impressed with how flexible and open-minded Polar Bears are and am in awe of the connective thinking and problem solving abilities they exhibit, despite being “polluted” by too many women’s studies and other identity courses.
As a mere ink-stained wretch, I don’t think I’ll be able to swing the now-hefty tuition costs for my own two teenagers, but I have absolutely zero doubt of the value of a Bowdoin education, no matter what is taught.
Adam Najberg ’90
Najberg is the Wall Street Journal digital editor for Asia.