Opinion: Julie Hermann “Controversy” Blown Out of Proportion

Crossposted from Hub City Forum, a Raritan River Review blog.

By Nadirah Simmons

Yet another Rutgers fiasco. If you do not know what is going on with Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann, she visited a media ethics and law class in February and said, among other things, that it would be “great” if New Jersey’s largest newspaper-The Star Ledger-went out of business. A student in the class recorded her comments and published them on Muckgers.com, a Rutgers University-based independent online publishing platform for student journalists where the student is managing editor.

Her comments were made in front of a journalism class and were certainly inappropriate, considering the students in the class hope to enter the profession she was criticizing. To make matters worse, The Star Ledger announced a reorganization last week that will result in layoffs for about 300 employees. Although Hermann may have had poor judgment in addressing the class, I cannot help but feel like her comments were blown out of proportion.

The very first thing I learned when I began my journalism and media studies classes here at Rutgers was to try as hard as you can to eliminate bias. The student’s article comes off as at-least partially biased against Hermann because of its tone and the reporter’s word choice. Secondly, the article is disorganized, with the first five sentences talking about her plans for the athletic program, The Star Ledger, unionization in college football, and Hermann’s sexual orientation. There is no focus to the article whatsoever. And lastly, it was not only hard to follow, but many of the quotes seemed to be taken out of context.

All word choice and syntax concerns aside, I do not feel that the Muckgers article, nor the ones that followed, are news stories. It is just too hard to tell what is actually going on or what the actual point of the story is.

There are so many other more important going on, like the tuition going up, the move to the Big 10, the public’s concerns with crime alerts and which areas are under RUPD control, the professor scheduled to take a job in the philosophy department that has been accused in a federal lawsuit of sexual assault; even Hermann’s abuse allegations.

Next time, blog about it.

Audio from the Media Ethics and Law class, featuring Julie Hermann

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