Official Response to Jim Vesely Op-Ed Criticizing New City Collegian

Official Response to Jim Vesely Op-Ed Criticizing New City Collegian

This is New City Collegian’s official statement in response to Jim Vesely’s Seattle Times Op-Ed criticizing New City Collegian published June 29th. Vesely is currently the paid adviser for SWAP (Student Website and Publication Team) which oversees the SCCC arts publication :Central Circuit and is a former Editorial Page Editor for The Seattle Times and a Journalism Fellow of Stanford University.

Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.” Society of Professional Journalists, Code of Ethics

According to Frank Blethen Publisher and CEO of The Seattle Times, “Jim (Vesely) is one of the best journalists and most decent people I have had the privilege to work with. He elevated The Seattle Times’ editorial voice and staff to be the most respected and influential in our long history.”  So you would imagine my surprise when on June 29th Vesely published a scathing op-ed on New City Collegian, failing to give us an opportunity to respond to a host of allegations. In the piece he makes many claims and assertions about New City Collegian that are simply untrue and unfounded.

  • “mock-sensational reporting,” “mundane and vulgar,” “mendacious,” “sensational journalism.” These are all terms that Vesely uses to describe New City Collegian. Though everyone is entitled to their opinions his words are just that, an opinion. He fails to cite articles and instances in which we have been “mendacious” (a ten dollar word for lying). We have scoured our past articles looking for mistakes and find that having our integrity called into question without citation fails to teach us. These statements are inflated hyperbole.
  • Vesely makes the following statement with the implication that we’re the perpetrators of this, “One was the assertion on campus is that everything written by Circuit staff members is subject to college review.” We have never published anything to (my knowledge) making this assertion, though :Central Circuit is subject to quarterly review by a publication board.
  • I personally like :Central Circuit. I read it, I enjoy it, :Central Circuit provides a place for student voice and art, this is excellent. There is no “ongoing fracas in the hallways,” as Vesely purports, though strain between our publications has existed since before my time with New City Collegian. To call it a “fight for the future of journalism,” is a bit extreme.

The question here is not one of “ethical journalism,” or “mock sensational reporting” but of campus needs. :Central Circuit publishes a nice artsy publication but (so far) has not attempted to provide up-to-date and extensive investigative journalism.

A great  example of this is when New City Collegian broke news on board meetings to create campus curfews and free speech zones(article currently not available due to website restructuring), we single handily scooped The Seattle Times, MyNorthwest, and The Huffington Post. This article by New City Collegian would go on to form the basis for an entire issue by :Central Circuit (arguably one of the most important pieces from the :Central Circuit writers) but not until weeks after the fact. Vesely also states, “normally, student publications have little impact outside their campus settings;” we beg to differ.

The students of our district deserve timely news reporting because the news does not run on a monthly print release cycle and take breaks between quarters, nor is the news that effects students confined to the walls of the college.

New City Collegian fills a much needed niche on campus for news and we produce the most up to date articles not only for Seattle Central but the entire district. This has been achieved on a budget of less than $1,000 since our inception (2010) which is a fraction of the $56,000 utilized for one year of :Central Circuit publications, and even a small fraction of Vesely’s quarterly adviser stipend.

We find it in incredibly bad taste that Vesely went out of his way to publish an article in The Seattle Times slandering our publication and attacking a student organization whose main goal is to teach and engage students in the art of journalism. Vesely says in closing citing the Society of Professional Journalist Code of Ethics, “find the news and report it, and minimize harm.” We could not agree more and hope Vesely takes the time to review the codes of the SPJ before making further “mendacious” claims.

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