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Point of View: For this Christmas season, how about a little respect for student journalists?

Nov. 30, 2010

By Carmen Galvan
Staff writer

All I want for Christmas is a little faith in our media. As staff writers, my colleagues and I have conducted numerous interviews for stories of varying importance and sensitivity. However, one thing I have noticed is that the more sensitive a story is, the less likely a source is willing to cooperate, even at Baylor.

This isn't surprising. In fact, it's what we as journalists expect. Of course it would be absurd if a spokesperson or public relations agent were to willingly answer any questions on a sensitive topic that is going to be eventually covered by the seemingly

ruthless media.

Or would it?

Based on my own experience, that of my colleagues as well as that of well-seasoned journalists, it is far better for an organization to provide transparency and cooperation in communicating with both the public and the media. The "why" is easy; it's Public Relations 101.

You look less suspicious and develop a relationship with the media. By withholding information, refusing to speak with the media and the inability to provide a straight story, an organization loses credibility with the media. Not to mention it creates a bit of anger along the way. It is important to remember that our job is to present factual and unbiased news in order to inform the public. That is our goal. And it is indescribably frustrating when we are unable to fulfill that goal because an organization spokesperson refuses to speak with a journalist or retracts their name as a source in order to save his or herself. Please realize that we don't have a personal vendetta against you. We just want you to place the public's interest before your own and put a bit of trust in your media.

I believe that it is important that organizations and departments across Baylor campus realize that most news outlets, especially The Baylor Lariat, hold itself to the utmost level of integrity. I do realize that there is a stereotype of the media that is not completely misguided.

I admit that there are sloppy reporters out there who either intentionally or unintentionally report incomplete or false information, thereby potentially ruining the organization's credibility or reputation. But this does not mean that every reporter fits this stereotype. And Baylor should have some trust in the integrity of its own students.

I'm asking that Baylor University in its entirety - which includes administrative departments and student organizations - offer a degree of cooperation and transparency to its student journalists. Not just to make our jobs easier, but to actively place the public's interest first by willingly offering the full truth when asked and to demonstrate a certain degree of trust and respect of your student journalists.

Such a gift may not be able to fit in a stocking or under the Christmas tree, but I don't think it's too much to ask.

Carmen Galvan is a junior journalism major from Baytown and a staff writer for The Lariat.