Editorial: Remain skeptical when reading the news

Editorial Board

All media outlets are public services. That applies whether they are government news agencies, individual outlets from CNN to The Des Moines Register, or student enterprises such as us, the Daily. Anyone who has taken on the responsibility of providing a public with news has assumed the responsibility to do it well and to hold people accountable for their actions.

Media outlets hold each other accountable, too, by reporting on biased reporting, the use of skewed or incomplete data or just by breaking a story first.

Throughout this year you will read in our pages stories covering events on campus and happenings related to Iowa State, such as Board of Regents meetings and the achievements of students and faculty. You will read investigative articles about changes to campus policy, such as the use of Coca-Cola products rather than Pepsi in dining halls.

Read our coverage, but remain skeptical. Keep the inquisitive nature that drives the human race forward. All media outlets (including us) are accountable to their readers.

Think about it. If no one had ever wondered what lay beyond the western horizon, nobody would have sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. If nobody wondered whether we could beat the Soviets to the moon, the United States probably would not have spent $25.4 billion from 1969-72 so 12 men could set foot on the rock and bring back samples of it. If two journalists working for the Washington Post had never thought twice about rumors of a break-in at the Watergate Hotel, Richard Nixon might not have come so close to presidential impeachment and resigned.

One of the things you can expect more of from the Daily is the use of documents and records to support analyze important but more discreet aspects of University business such as committees that set tuition and fees, alter student services such as dining and CyRide, the Board of Regents and the fate of tuition-set asides, AgriSol’s work with Iowa State on a land development project in Tanzania, and what will be done to ease the congestion that goes with enrolling a projected 31,000 students.

Your role, the reader, in all this is to make decisions with the information we offer and act upon it and to check the sources yourselves. If there is a mistake in a story, we want to know. If we failed to report on an important angle of the story, we want to know. If you have something to contribute to the discussion (or want to start one), we want to hear it.

The words of President Ronald Reagan ring true: “Trust, but verify.”

You don’t have to work for a newspaper, magazine or TV channel to do the news: Everybody’s a journalist.