May 31st, 2004
The Sierra College "Outlook Newspaper" Issue...
Greetings all. I hope you had a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend. In lieu of composing a new "soapbox" for this week, I have decided to post this letter, which I have mailed out to all parties (student, faculty, and administrative) involved in the Sierra College "Outlook" issue with this show. I believe this letter says all that needs to be said for now.
Recent developments at "The Outlook" newspaper have proven to be troubling and forced me to contact you on both legal and ethical matters.
I am the lead host of a morning talk radio show on 98.5 FM, the "Rob, Arnie and Dawn Show." Recently, some Sierra College students contacted us and sent us copies of "The Outlook," bringing these troubling matters to our attention.
First, the legal issue. In the most recent May issue of the student run newspaper an opinion column contained an illegally obtained and reprinted copy of my trademarked and service marked logo. Your layout editor, Martin Corona, has already contacted me via e-mail to apologize for this error and take responsibility for the mistake. He confirmed in his communiqué that the logo was taken off our website and subsequently reprinted in the newspaper. While I appreciate him accepting the blame for this error, I could not let it go without being sure that administration officials were made aware of the incident.
I am very aware of the freedoms abided our California students in regard to their school newspapers. I am also aware that administration and faculty members have little creative and editorial control of school publications, short of potentially libelous and damaging items being published. The illegal and unauthorized publication of a trademarked logo should fall under the latter heading. It is inconceivable and unacceptable that your paper, faculty, administration and campus would overlook such a basic rule of publication law. I am hopeful that this letter will serve to notify you of the egregious lack of oversight and adherence to basic journalism 101 principles, thus creating more attention paid to things which are published by "The Outlook." I trust I will not see my trademarked logo reprinted sans permission ever again.
This brings us to the more disturbing issue, the ethical one. An editor of the "Outlook," named Leona, wrote an opinion column calling for a boycott of my radio show in response to a letter to the editor that was received. I want to make it perfectly clear that it is not the tone of her column nor her call for a boycott which in any way interests me. All of us who have spent any time in the business world know that boycotts never work, and I in fact, welcome the free publicity.
What concerns me the most is that Leona wrote her column without ever once attempting to contact the show for any type of input, response or explanation. Neither the show nor the radio station was ever even contacted asking for a taped copy of the alleged incident.
Leona's column leaves the impression that there was no work done whatsoever to follow-up on the validity of the claims made by a student writing a letter to the editor. Is it "The Outlook's" policy to assume that people are telling the truth rather than confirming stories via sources? This is hardly what I would call journalism.
Leona is entitled to her opinion, albeit an ignorant one. The standard rule for opinion journalism is simple; make sure you have both sides of the story, and then refute the one you disagree with. Leona never bothered to get our side, let alone confirm that the allegation made in the letter ever really occurred.
The recipe I have laid out for you here is a formula for Libel. You are clearly allowing ignorant, poorly (if at all) trained individuals to propagate lies and half-truths and pass them off as journalism. Opinion founded in fact is what America was built on. Opinion founded in ignorance is what will destroy us. I am hopeful that necessary steps will be taken to immediately rein in these poor students who are being failed on a daily basis by a faculty that is supposed to be guiding and/or teaching them.
Thank you for your time,
Host of the "Rob, Arnie and Dawn" Show
Email me and let me know if you think I left out anything.
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