OUR VIEW: When the media gets it wrong


The impact of hurried reporting hit close to home last week as Simpson College was cited in articles from Politico, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post in relation to a potential presidential forum event.

The details laid out in those articles were largely misrepresentative of the facts and led to days of headache and pushy phone calls to members of Simpson’s staff.

Jill Johnson, executive director of marketing and public relations, fielded phone calls from various reporters and noted the lack of fact searching.

“It became very clear very quickly how important it was to them to have this first, to break this news first,” Johnson said. “Even more so, better to be first than to be right.”

Politico, Newsweek and The New York Post ran articles about a presidential forum expected to be held at Simpson and hosted by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. While the base of those claims is in fact true, many details turned out to be inaccurate.

There is a plan in place for Simpson to potentially host a bi-partisan presidential forum for the 2016 campaign. The forum would not, however, be sponsored by Simpson or hosted by de Blasio.

De Blasio’s name came into the mix because of his connection to the actual sponsor of the forum, the organization The Progressive Agenda Committee. De Blasio is one of numerous major political figures listed as a signer with TPAC. The connection alone does not remotely substantiate the claim of de Blasio hosting a TPAC event at Simpson.

The intended focus of the forum would be on economic concerns such as tax reform initiatives, finances of the middle class and the minimum wage.

So, where does the media come in? What does it mean when national media cross a few hairs and end up misrepresenting facts involving our college?

For the editorial board of The Simpsonian, it means a lot of things. We, as a whole, strive to report the fair, honest facts to our campus community.

When national media outlets fail to fact check claims and misconstrue details, it doesn’t do much damage to their reputation. If members of The Simpsonian did the same, the results would most likely look incredibly different.

We want to check the facts. We want to verify and confirm any claims before putting them into print for our readers. And we want to look to national media as examples for quality product, not the perpetuators of inaccuracy.

Aside from the media’s shortcomings in reporting on this story, the Simpson community could see some major political action if this forum comes to fruition. Check back with The Simpsonian and thesimpsonian.com in the coming weeks to find out more about this opportunity.