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Reader Representative

By Tara H. Arden-smith

Crimson Reader Rep Concedes Errors, Clarifies Procedures.

Perhaps this would make a good headline for one, or even all of my columns this year.

I'm Tara Arden-Smith '96 of Lowell House and New York, and I'll be writing a weekly column--Fridays, right here--to discuss your comments, concerns and questions about the daily contents of The Crimson.

But first I have to tell you something, which some of you may already know, but which I'm sure many more will be quick to point out: I am a news executive of The Harvard Crimson.

I'm not just using this column as an opportunity to establish myself before thousands of our distinguished readers. There is a point.

That point is the existence of a potential conflict here--I may have assigned or edited some of the stories you have concerns about.

When that happens, as it inevitably will, another news exec. will take my place to respond.

The reason for this is that I, as reader representative, am not the voice of The Crimson. If that's what I were trying to be than I'd have no problem, whatever my direct involvement, in offering a purely Crimson-oriented take on what we all read.

What I want to be for you is an impartial third party, reading what The Crimson writes not only as a "Crimed," as we call ourselves here, but also as a reader, just like you.

I'll try to be as disinterested as I can (but not uninterested--I'll save that for my curricular responsibilities) as I respond to the issues you raise.

But because I am a news executive, I'll try to make the most of my dual roles. I'll use the knowledge I've gained from hanging out at 14 Plympton for two and a half years to bring a better-informed perspective to issues which some people at The Crimson might not feel comfortable talking about.

I'll tell you as much as I know about what goes on here and about why we do the things we do. I hope I can provide you with a better understanding of the well-intentioned organization that produces a sometimes-flawed product.

I'll try to be the first to take The Crimson to task when we're wrong. I'll also do my best to find out where we went wrong and why.

No student group does anything that's 100 percent trouble-free. And The Crimson is certainly not the exception to this rule.

It's because I have access to reporters, editors and institutional knowledge that you may not, and because you surely will have questions that won't be answered by our other daily coverage, that I'm here.

The best thing you can do to help me help you is harass me. Tell me what you're thinking, tell me what you like, tell me what you hate and tell me when you think (or maybe know) that we've made a mistake.

Bye Raj

My illustrious predecessor Raj Shourie leaves a large void for me to fill, and I'll do my best.

I don't know if I'll inherit his cult following--after his term ended in January, several anxious readers called to find out what had happened to him, one even to find out his post-graduation plans--and I doubt my face plastered on page 3 every week will jump start as many hearts as did his.

Still, I hope you'll find me approachable and receptive. If you tell me what you think I'll tell you what I think. I don't know how much what I think matters to anyone out there, but it may help to inform debate, if not close it.

Please call me at 495-9666 or send e-mail to arden@fas. Or if you see me in the Square, stop me.

Next week I'm going to write about an issue that's been raised by many students and faculty in the last few weeks--our Spring Registration day coverage concerning Internet privacy.

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