I often wonder why, when I stumble out of bed in the morning, I look for information about the interesting, insightful and compelling events that happened at Harvard the previous day in the "Names and Faces" column of The Boston Globe.
Yes, I do read The Crimson. I find The Crimson to be an invaluable source of news about the day-to-day events at the College. However, when it comes to providing more in-depth information on big-news events that happen at Harvard, often The Crimson falls sadly short.
One of the main criticisms I hear repeatedly about The Crimson is that it doesn't contain any news. Obviously, this is an exaggeration. The events and people the Crimson reports on need to be reported and are clearly "news." We want to hear about the latest Undergraduate Council proposals (I think); it's important to note the administration's decisions and student activities. The Crimson is chock-full of this kind of news, and its reporting of these events, though sometimes plagued with errors, is thorough.
The problem that I believe people are referring to is that often The Crimson's coverage stops there. In looking through the paper in the morning, I look for articles that are interesting, that will give me a new perspective on an issue, that will give me in-depth information on something that happened at Harvard. Occasionally, I find such an article. Often, I find it in another publication or news source.
I do not intend to suggest that other campus publications have have this news--the other publications I am referring to are national newspapers, some from across the country, which provide me with interesting insight into Harvard news events that I do not get from The Crimson.
In last Friday's Washington Post, I read an article headlined "A Renaissance Man's Artful Living," by Jo Ann Lewis. This coloum was supplement to an obituary for Sydney J. Freedberg '36, Porter professor emeritus of Fine Arts, who died on May 6 in Washington.
Friday morning, in The Washington Post, I read about his lecture style, his distinctive accent, his continuing involvement with former students and even his favorite meal on trips with students to the North End (veal Bolognese). Lewis, a former student, even wrote that he gave cooking lessons in his "tiny Cambridge kitchen."
The following Monday morning, in The Harvard Crimson, I read that Professor Freedberg was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1988; that he left Harvard in 1983; that he was honored by the government of Italy in 1982.
One would expect that The Crimson, being at Harvard, would have access to many resources to find out the same information that Lewis knew from her own experiences. I do not fault the writer of the obituary; though I'm sure several professors of fine arts would have been able to provide information for the story. This is merely another example of The Crimson failing to provoke interest with its articles and reporting style.
I've found a few examples of the type of coverage I think should be the model for The Crimson's coverage of Harvard-related events which are bound to become local or national news. The most recent was an article about a Harvard student fighting for custody of her child in California so that she could return to Harvard and finish her studies here. I was happy to have read The Crimson's story the day before a similar on appeared in The Boston Globe. The Crimson's story provided information that only a Harvard newspaper could have; this kind of unique coverage should be the goal of such reporting.
I understand the difficulty of providing in-depth, investigative, interesting reporting in every story in a daily newspaper. However, if The Crimson hopes to have its voice heard by a greater portion of the Harvard community, it must reach out to whose who feel that there is no news in The Crimson. And it must learn from the type of coverage it provided in the student custody story--informing the Harvard community of news events weeks before they become hour-long specials on CNN.
Noelle Eckley is The Crimon's Reader Representative. She is not a Crimson editor. She may be reached by e-mail (email@example.com) or by leaving a telephone message at The Crimson (617-495-9666.)