I am disappointed with the lack of intimate Greek coverage in The Daily Northwestern. This article alone represents my views, inspired by my knowledge as a humble member of Omega Delta Phi and third and former President of the Modern Republic of the Multicultural Greek Council.
When I talk to student journalists at NU about reporting on Greek life, I keep hearing this refrain: “Greek sources are difficult to understand! They don’t talk to us!” I believe that’s because most NU reporters – The Daily and beyond – want to cover Greek chapters as if they were the Chicago Bulls of the ’90s, when in reality they are journalist Laurie introduces Markkanen.
From what I’ve seen over the past three years, many journalists are only interested in covering the tabloid controversy surrounding birth, death and chapters – until recently seldom mundane pursuits and pleasures. I’ve seen reporters struggling like bloodhounds as they set out to connect the decline of Greek life with the abolition of the Greek life movement. These actions make Greek Life members untrustworthy journalists.
I believe that NU publications should employ at least three journalists for reporting on daily Greek life – one for the Interfraternal Council, one for the Panhellenic Union and one for multicultural reporting on the Greek Council and the National Panhellenic Council. A part-time beat reporter is not enough to cover 33 Greek chapters and at the moment our publications have found that all Greek life reporting fails.
Using my newspaper as an example, how can The Daily have a lasting relationship with any Greek chapter when we hardly have one person covering all four councils? What message does this send about our intentions to the students of Greek Life and to the Brotherhood and Sisterhood Life Office? I know that our newsrooms are often understaffed and the available staff are often reluctant to report on Greek life, but I still think we should strive for quality Greek reporting.
I don’t think a newsroom in any other region would allow the fundamental errors that I have seen in Greek life reporting. I believe that in no other area The Daily will allow journalists and editors to claim 2,000 people – 1/4 of the student body – despite alleged participants and internal sources including Alpha Epsilon Pi and Sigma participating in the Alpha Epsilon rally . Claiming that the number was impossibly high. In no other field would journalists cover the community, which makes up a significant portion of the student population, with such patchy analysis.
A big mistake is the frequent desire to refer to IFC and PHA as “Greek life” when journalists can and should be more specific. For example, when a journalist reports on a chapter’s misconduct and describes that misconduct as a matter of “Greek life,” all four councils suffer. and for what? Because a journalist doesn’t care about being accurate, innocent people pay the price.
For example, I am surprised that nobody took action against the AEPI and the anti-SAE rally in September. I would love to see the coverage of why Abolish Greek Life in general has lost steam over the past two years, especially since October 2021. I would love to see an explainer of what really happened at both houses. Nasha, because I guess we don’t know all the stories. I’d be particularly interested in that because I’ve noticed that both SAE and AEPI are holding public events in Spring 2022 – organizations selling SAE and Deering Meadow hot dogs at the show and AEPI from The Rock – and I’m short on negatives. But was surprised by the attention both fraternities received. Why was that?
In closing, I list two next steps that I encourage for a newsroom that is serious about informing the public about Greek life.
First, I would encourage a reporter unfamiliar with Greek life to connect with someone familiar with Greek structures, while keeping the coverage fair through a strong editorial series. In my experience, when an independent reporter tries to cover a Greek story, it’s often like a kid trying to take an organic chemistry—it’s a complete disproportion to failure. I believe that if we want to tell the whole truth about Greek Life’s behavior, we need a Greek Life Sherpa to help with the reporting in some way, from middle manager for sources to managing interviews. The searched. The Daily already has a strong editorial chain, so I think it’s doable.
Second, I think that any newsroom with a legitimate interest in quality Greek reporting should better support journalists emotionally and financially to scale down business and maintain continuity in Greek life. On a philosophical level, it’s difficult for any source to trust a reporter when the reporter changes every quarter. Hire one, preferably two, journalists with Greek life and let them cover every worthy story. With a strong track record and growing trust, we can build the relationship to cover the full story.
Sterling Ortiz is a fifth year SESP. You can contact them [email protected]If you wish to reply publicly to this comment, send a letter to the editor [email protected]The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of all employees of The Daily Northwestern.