READER REPRESENTATIVE

Are you getting your bagel's worth?

Did you ever get so angry at The Crimson's coverage that you wanted to fling it across the room? Or ever wonder what possessed the editors to publish that lead story?

That's what I'm here for. As The Crimson's Reader Representative, I'm here to listen to your feedback and help to facilitate a dialogue about the accuracy, depth, and impact of The Crimson's coverage.

The Crimson attempts to cover the news and concerns of a broad range of readers--from first-years to Harvard Square businesspeople to politicos at the ARCO Forum. Crimson editors naturally come from a rather narrow segment of this diverse population. In order for The Crimson to truly be the paper of the Harvard community, it needs to be accountable to those whom it purports to cover.

The Crimson is the only paper of record which serves Harvard. As a diligent Ec 10 student, I realize that this means that there's no competition to decide what type of coverage best serves the readers, or the "consumers." Therefore, it becomes even more important for anyone who ever picks up The Crimson, and especially those who find The Crimson does not cover what they care about, to voice their concerns and help to make more people feel that they can consider The Crimson their own college newspaper.

The charge of the Reader Representative is to investigate complaints, inform editors of reader perspectives, and provide a forum in this column where The Crimson can be critiqued by readers and defended by editors. I am an impartial observer; I've never before written for The Crimson. Think of me as your voice in the newsroom, someone to present your concerns to the paper's staff. The Crimson should serve a greater purpose than as wrap for Harvard Dining Services' fried cusk. It's my responsibility to make sure that reader comments are recognized and addressed in the newspaper.

In order to encourage reader comments, here are some sample comments that might reflect some of your concerns about The Crimson. Then again, they might not. But I won't know if you don't tell me.

Reader comment No.1: "You published a picture of me in Wednesday's Crimson, catching me mid-gesture, looking as if I eat small children. Did you have to make me look so strange? Sincerely, James Carville." My response: according to your wife, that is an accurate and relatively common representation of your appearance. Therefore, I believe in this case that The Crimson's coverage was fair and accurate. But thanks for the feedback. If anyone else thinks a picture or an article distorts the truth, I'll investigate his or her concerns as well.

Reader comment No.2: "You ran a story last Saturday covering a professor's talk on the alien abduction experience. However, you have consistently ignored the concerns of Harvard students who have themselves been abducted by aliens." Well, this is probably not the largest group of Harvard students who feels ignored by The Crimson. If you think The Crimson hasn't covered your segment of the Harvard community, give me a call.

Reader comment No.3: "I don't like reading The Crimson because the ink comes off on my fingers." The Reader Representative often has the same problem. But it is a newspaper--get over it. Or else, may I suggest The Crimson On-Line?

Reader comment No.4: "The Crimson has covered the debate over pizza quality in Harvard Square as if there were only two pizza shops around. Though other pizza shops are not open until the early morning, there are other places to look for quality pizza. Sincerely, Manager, Bertucci's Harvard Square." In my opinion, Bertucci's lacks the minimum amount of greasiness to be considered in the same category with Tommy's and Pinocchio's. But count your blessings that you are not a part of this debate.

If you have a concern about The Crimson's coverage, no matter how small, it is my concern as well. My goal as Reader Representative is to try to make sure every reader can find a bagel's worth of relevant news in the paper--when you read the paper in the morning, there should be enough news that you're interested in, that you're concerned about, that you want to read, to last you through your morning bagel (or Breakfast Sandwich, as the case may be). So if you're finding that you're not getting your bagel's worth, let me know.