To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
I have not written before in the CRIMSON. I am concerned with the unsigned articles of Feb. 25 and 26 about the election for the chairmanship of the HCUA. In the articles Rusty Taylor '65, is imputed with dishonorable election tactics and mismanagement of the Combined Charities Drive. I do not think this to be accurate reporting. As a former member of the HCUA, I have never had occasion to question Rusty's integrity. The success of the largest Combined Charities Drive in Harvard's history speaks for itself.
My primary objection is that the Feb. 25 article places the CRIMSON in a position to influence the outcome of the election. The article reports that Taylor had a large bloc of votes, but that support seemed to be shifting to Tom Seymour '64. I see no way for the HCUA or the CRIMSON to determine a candidate's support before the election meeting.
The CRIMSON ought to distinguish between what is factual reporting and that which falls within the area of an editorial. In these unsigned articles the CRIMSON does not state the source of the criticism against Taylor. Certainly the editorial of Feb. 25 discussed the HCUA elections under a responsible editorial heading that was in marked contrast to the shoddy journalism in the articles cited by my letter. The CRIMSON implication of power politics by candidates for chairmanship could cast a shadow over the HCUA that might weaken its solid reputation gained by tangible contributions to the Harvard students. These articles demonstrate the CRIMSON stepping beyond its role as reporters for the Harvard community and needlessly damaging the reputation of a candidate for another organization. Allen Terrell Jr. '65
Editor's note: Mr. Terrell apparently assumes that the CRIMSON, or any newspaper, wrongfully commits itself to a point of view by reporting on the issues in a public conflict. It should be obvious that editorial judgment is involved in any story in a newspaper, on any page, for the decision to report an event is an editorial one. Once this decision is made, it is the newspaper's obligation to present as accurately as possible the facts of the issue. While the reporter must make subjective choices of what is relevant and important to a story, such choices do not necessarily involve editorial judgment of the issues involved. In printing the articles on the HCUA the CRIMSON made an editorial decision: the HCUA was worth reporting. There is nothing in that action which implies the CRIMSON wanted to damage the HCUA. Whatever "shadows" have been cast over the Council result from the facts and nature of the dispute.
Most people involved with this election knew that various charges were being made against Taylor, and that they might affect the outcome of the vote. Had the stories failed to mention the controversy, they would have distorted reality. The articles included reports of both criticism and praise of all the candidates; Taylor was the center of most discussion and therefore merited more space.
Mr. Terrell must be naive to think that no one could ascertain the thinking of the Council. There were many attempts to estimate candidates' support before this election; such speculations are legitimate material for reporting. Mr. Terrell objects that the sources available to the CRIMSON were not revealed. The CRIMSON felt its sources were authoritative and respected their desire to remain unnamed.
Mr. Terrell asserts that the articles were inaccurate, and he is entitled to that opinion, The CRIMSON stands behind its stories as fair presentations of the dispute, and, unlike Mr. Terrell, does not judge any of the candidates or their actions.