The Stanford Daily and Special Fees

From a statement by Stanford Daily Editor-in-Chief Kamil Dada, yesterday:

Our funders, including students at large who pay special fees, do not receive any special access to our reporters, do not control what stories get written and do not have a say in how the stories are written. This policy will continue.

In line with our coverage, our op-ed and letter to the editor policy also needs to be reiterated. I welcome and encourage you to write to The Daily about issues that you feel strongly about. In terms of letters to the editor, as always, please feel free to critique, comment or respond to The Daily’s coverage.

However, some guidelines are needed. I do not wish to run any op-eds that relate to student groups declaring why they deserve special fees or should be on the ballot. Groups could fill our opinion page for weeks well outlasting election season with legitimate cases for why they deserve to be on the ballot and it isn’t The Daily’s role to promote or publicize these groups.

From the Editorial Board today (visual representation provided for added effect):

The time has come again for the countless student groups of Stanford to begin petitioning for special fees funding. As such, it is likely that most students by now have received at least a handful of e-mails imploring them to vote for the special fees funding of certain groups. We, the Editorial Board, would like to take a more public approach by asking you here and now to sign the petition for Stanford Daily special fees.

It goes on from there, explaining why the Daily deserves your money. To be fair, Dada also said yesterday:

On the other hand, if there is a specific issue relating to elections that is relevant to all student groups, then a case can be made for running an op-ed on the subject. Essentially, the op-ed should be appropriate to a wide variety of student groups and within our general word limit for op-eds, which is 650 words.

I love the Daily, read it every day and would hate to see it struggle financially if it harmed coverage or resulted in less frequent publication. But they’re not exactly covering themselves in glory by publishing a self-promoting infomercial the day after they rolled out their elections and special fees coverage policies, which save for the rather impossible and unreasonable idea that students do not control or have a say in how stories are written (isn’t the whole publication geared toward them?) are quite reasonable.

I am not entirely sure if they are violating their own standards by running this editorial. I am tempted to say that to the letter of the policy, they are good, but that they are violating its spirit. It is hard to view this as anything other than using their control over the media to their own benefit. That they also ran a letter to the editor making a similar argument about how awesome the Daily is does not exactly help either. Though the Daily should get the benefit of a doubt and this is probably more an oversight than some malicious scheme, some clarification of how this editorial is consistent with the stated policy would be helpful.

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