Mills junior challenges The Weekly to publish responsible articles and avoid sensationalism

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October 16, 2003

The article written for the Features section last issue (Oct. 2,
2003) contained a title and a photograph that flies in the face of
what the content could have – or I dare say, should have – been
about.

Even though I was one of several interviewed for the story
related to the service learning program in place for Mills students
to help out at Fremont High School, it amazes me how the very
accurate quotes the reporter used were ignored in their content and
a piece was produced that repeats the damage of the very issues
that were raised in my conversations with the writer.

I’m speaking of fear and the promotion of racism and
misunderstanding in regards to youth culture.

While it is true that a violent crime occurred involving youth
from Fremont High School, the crime did not take place ON that
campus, nor did the majority of service learners who attend the
campus every week even become aware of it until approached by the
reporter asking their opinions about it.

What’s important to note here is that the reasons these service
learners have made this decision to go every week and act as
mentors, role models, teaching assistants and tutors is what got
lost in the article.

Sensationalism took over once again in a college newspaper that
I would like to see reach beyond the mediocre standard of fear
mongering that is produced by the media culture in general.

I would challenge the reporters to look deeper into the impact
of their stories instead of repeating the same tired and oppressive
focus on Oakland as a cesspool of violence that has to be feared by
any Mills student who dares to exit those gates.

I believe that we have a responsibility to connect to this great
model of community kinship that has been developed under Dr.
Anderson’s supervision and to report on it with the type of
sensitivity and wholeness that it deserves.

Who and what does it serve to use a single shot of a section of
the Fremont campus that shows us the fencing that surrounds the
school?

I believe that this photograph along with the title beginning
with the word “violence” only serves to cause fear in Mills
students.

It brings the images of prisons to mind and helps foster so much
fear at “the other” (real Oakland residents and Oakland youth in
particular) that distracts from the fabulous contribution that
we’re providing there.

Why not focus on the incredible work that the service learners
who go there actually do?

That’s the real story: the challenging one that urges the
reporters to go beyond the norm of the everyday sensationalism that
blasts us every time we pick up a paper or turn on the news on
radio or TV.

To take into account the larger story is what I would like to
see Mills strive for. Isn’t it just all part of being a progressive
institution of education? Setting new standards and taking new
responsibilities? Or, is the philosophy of the journalism classes
or the editors of The Weekly to just fall in lock-step with old
ways of thinking? If it is, I believe that it’s highly
irresponsible.

Alicia Brite, Junior


Mills junior challenges The Weekly to publish responsible articles and avoid sensationalism was published on October 16, 2003 in Letters to the Editor

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