Oracle must also report ‘bad news’ to be credible

The Oracle prominently featured an article titled “Greek tragedy” last week, in which it was revealed that the Kappa Sigma fraternity owes USF considerable funds. Since then, the paper has been accused of attempting to embarrass the fraternity. The paper’s foremost goal is to report news. This cannot be achieved if the paper holds stories because they may portray USF in a bad light.

The article focused primarily on the nearly $100,000 the university will lose due to the fraternity not paying its dues. Because of this, responses accused the paper of not “reporting all the positive things” the fraternity accomplished. The timing of the article’s publication was also called into question, as it ran during “rush week,” a period when fraternities attempt to recruit new members. No facts of the story, however, where disputed.

By not paying its dues, the fraternity is bound to negatively impact the university. Based on this premise alone, front-page coverage was warranted. It was printed after all facts had been confirmed and was in no way scheduled to willfully coincide with “rush week.”

While all Greek organizations have many things to be proud of, the fraternity’s arrears will adversely affect students. Reporters attempted to seek responses from members of the fraternity; yet when members of the fraternity were approached for comment, they chose not to respond, a fact that went unreported in the article.

It is understandable that the fraternity is not proud of their incriminating details being reported so prominently, or at all. The way in which it chose to respond, however, can at best be described as an overreaction.

Approximately several hundred copies of The Oracle were willingly destroyed. By doing so, the fraternity members hampered a service that is offered to students free of charge. It may also have caused monetary harm to The Oracle, as it relies heavily on advertising for financing. Advertisers, which also include students who paid for classified ads, now have the right to ask for refunds, as many of the ads they paid for did not reach readers. The matter remains under investigation by Student Affairs.

It is regrettable that straight reporting by The Oracle is often misunderstood as “making USF look bad.” But without reporting newsworthy stories The Oracle would be little more than a public relations tool of USF and would not fulfill its duty as the communities’ newspaper.