(Ed. Note-The Crimson does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be paid to anonymous letters but under special conditions, at the request of the writer, names will be with-held.)
To the Editor of the CRIMSON:
The editorial appearing in the Harvard CRIMSON on Saturday, April 6, entitled. "The Road to Understanding" conveys a false impression to the public as to the true position of Harvard publicity.
Since October the Office of the Secretary to the University for Information, which is the Harvard publicity office, has been in my charge. The direction of this office is in the hands of the Regent of the University. It is the practice of the University to acquaint this office with University plans and policies as soon as they are determined.
The impression, which a reader of the CRIMSON might gather, can be illustrated by a quotation of a paragraph from the CRIMSON editorial. "Daily the University is the scene of happenings which affect the outside world. It is false modesty to pretend that the discoveries of Harvard scientists are not of interest to outsiders, that the plans of the oldest and richest university in the country are of no import except to the handful of men who are charged with administering her affairs."
The impression here conveyed is that these happenings have no channel through which they may reach the outside world as news. Yet those "happenings which affect the outside world", those "discoveries of Harvard scientiests" which are of interest to outsiders have been the subject of numbers of releases by this office to the public, as for instance Professor Shapley's announcement of the discovery of the center of the universe, or the acquisition of the Nelson letters by Widener Library. One hundred and twenty-one releases of Harvard news have been given to the press since October.
During the past decade universities have become "news", and not alone the activities and plans of the University, but also the criticisms of its undergraduates are featured by the press. Under these circumstances it is imperative for all concerned with such matters, student editors as well as administrative officers, to have regard for the exactness of their statements, and the misapprehensions which they may create in the minds of the public. Yours very truly, Robert K. Lamb, Executive Secretary In charge of publicity.
Editors Note; The above letter from Mr. Lamb is perhaps a justification of the manifold activities of the information office; but in the defense cited, his figures and in general his argument is apparently based upon a technical criterion of quantity rather than actual value.
Aside from the mere figure of 121 releases, which at best is a ponderous argument, the factors which are most desirable in the public eye are quality, timeliness, and the selection of news. It should also be pointed out that in handling the subject of greatest interest to the public, namely the House Plan, the majority of the official releases were merely late confirmations of news already printed in the metropolitan dailies.