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Talking About Elections, Identifiers Must Be Qualified

By Harry R. Lewis

To the editors:

As the campaign season will be a long one, I wonder if The Crimson might want to consider caution in its use of identifiers. A story states (“Professors Shower Cash on Obama,” news, Apr. 18), “Romney also received $2,300 from Cizik Professor of Business Administration Clayton M. Christensen, a fellow Mormon. Mitt Romney has raised significant funds in the Mormon community, taking in $2.9 million from Utah—a state that is 60 percent Mormon and not usually considered a top source of political dollars.” This reference is striking because of the lack of any comparable identifiers for other candidates and donors. Not mentioned, for example, is the fact that both Sen. Barak H. Obama and his donor Kirkland and Elliis Professor of Law David B. Wilkins ’77 are black, and blacks are not usually a top source of political dollars. If many of the Clinton contributors were Jewish, would The Crimson be sure to state that fact? News media ought to avoid such divisive references altogether, unless the usage pattern and news value can be explained. As it is, a reader of the article might think that The Crimson has special policies for reporting on Mormons.

The writer is McKay Professor of Computer Science and a Harvard College Professor.

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