Volume 92, Issue 93

Wednesday, March 24, 1999


Finding the truth by any means necessary

A fine example of ignorance

Computers in the library suck

Finding the truth by any means necessary

Re: The article that never was

To the Editor:
In February, I approached the Focus editors at The Gazette to see if they were interested in an article dealing with the use of condoms as a means to prevent the transmission of HIV. I was given the green light to go ahead with the topic.

After doing some exhaustive research, I called several doctors' offices recommended by the department of medicine at Western. These doctors are overworked and do not have a lot of free time. Their offices suggested I provide them with questions they could answer when they found some spare time. It seemed reasonable to me.

When I returned to The Gazette to discuss the questions to be submitted, I was informed this approach was unacceptable. The staff at The Gazette, in particular the editor-in-chief, Brendan Howe, was adamant that only telephone or face-to-face interviews were acceptable. I was informed that the policy of The Gazette was not to allow individuals to provide considered answers to a questionnaire. Instead, The Gazette wants interviews with off the cuff answers. Is this the way to find the truth?

I asked Brendan what his policy was based on (e.g. Canadian Press guidelines). His answer was (and I quote since that's what he wants), "it's an unwritten rule. That's the way we've always done things here. I don't know how to explain it. We want answers with part emotion and part fact. An article based solely on facts would be too dry." I tried to point out to him that whether an article is dry or not depends on the person writing it.

He suggested that I approach the Western News, faculty papers or the school of journalism. I guess I'm naive. I thought the purpose of a student newspaper, or any newspaper for that matter, was to provide its readers with the truth. I don't believe in unwritten rules. That's where prejudice, discrimination and other hateful practices thrive.

I put it to you. The Gazette is providing a disservice to the students on this campus. Don't we want to know which is riskier – unprotected oral sex or protected anal sex? Don't we want to know the truth? What does it matter if the truth is in the form of a written answer or a verbal answer? Does the truth matter or is sensationalism the goal?

Des Stutchbury
Special Student IV

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Copyright The Gazette 1999