The Oberlin Review

Williams Controversy Highlights Perils of Fame in Objective Journalism

Editorial Board

February 20, 2015

Media lenses turned inward last week when NBC announced its Feb. 10 decision to suspend Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. Revelations that the Emmy Award–winning news personality had repeatedly misrepresented his experiences reporting on a 2003 Iraq War mission left the news network reeling, trying to assess damage done to the network’s credibility. Williams delivered an on-air apology on Feb. 4 for what he called a “mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” but his words were quickly overshadowed by a media cycle determined to scrutinize stories from throughout the anchor’s Nightly News tenure. On the same day as the suspension, revered newsroom comedian Jon Stewart announced that he would be l...

By Ignoring Parallels with Present, Audiences Undercut Black Retellings of History

Editorial Board

February 13, 2015

Fresh from the success of a powerful Winter Term production that filled Hall Auditorium last weekend, members of the cast of Dessa Rose reunited Wednesday for one final performance, this time before a markedly different audience: minimum-security inmates at Grafton Correctional Institution. “I cannot tell you how much [more] this one shortened sing thru version of the show meant to me than any of our performances combined,” wrote College sophomore and lead actress Tiffany Ames in a Facebook post. “More than any show I’ve ever done.” That the musical would take on new meaning in the context of prison should be no surprise. For some of those who took seats in Hall last weekend, however, the story’s contemporary politi...

Bryn Mawr Debacle Highlights Weight-Centric Approach to “Health”

Editorial Board

February 6, 2015

Trigger Warning: This editorial contains discussion of eating disorders and body image.  A troubling Health Center email sent to students with “elevated” BMIs, encouraging them to “Give a HOOT” about their body size, generated protests and unfavorable press at Bryn Mawr College in late January. “We want YOU to be in the Fitness OWLS (Onward to Weight Loss Success) Program,” read the message, noting that the program was a partnership between the Bryn Mawr health center and the school’s athletic department and dining services. Health Center Director Kay C. Kerr issued a written apology for the message last Saturday, but not before the incident drew renewed attention to discussions of health and wellne...

Rolling Stone Errors Highlight Poor Journalism, Perpetuate Rape Culture

Editorial Board

December 12, 2014

Trigger Warning: This editorial contains discussion of sexualized violence.  After weeks of controversy over the veracity of a Rolling Stone article on rape at the University of Virginia, an anonymous source came forward on Tuesday claiming that the deputy managing editor of the magazine, Sean Woods, had offered his letter of resignation to Rolling Stone’s founder and publisher, Jann Wenner. The move follows a series of journalistic errors that has unnecessarily diverted media attention away from the realities of campus sexual assault. The article, “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, told the story of a first-year, “Jackie,” who was gang raped b...

Representative Media Coverage Requires Voices of Citizen Journalists

Editorial Board

December 5, 2014

Hours after a Staten Island grand jury announced Wednesday that a white NYPD officer would not be indicted in the death of Eric Garner, a black father of six who stopped breathing while held in a banned chokehold, The Huffington Post published a headline that stood out in the media frenzy: “A Grand Jury Did Indict One Person Involved In Eric Garner’s Killing — The Man Who Filmed It.” More surprising than the news of another non-indictment of a white police officer accused of killing an unarmed black man is the rarity of this type of media angle. In the cases of John Crawford in Beavercreek, Ohio, Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and now Eric Garner in New York City, corporate-backed national media outlets have...

Emergency Declaration in Missouri Premature, Discourages Structural Change

Editorial Board

November 21, 2014

In anticipation of the announcement by prosecutors of whether a grand jury will file charges against Darren Wilson — the Ferguson, MO police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in August — Missouri Governor Jay Nixon stoked the flames of a virulent disconnect between government officials and black residents in greater St. Louis by declaring a state of emergency Monday. Nixon, a second-term Democrat, authorized National Guard troops to assist a coalition of three police agencies in controlling expected demonstrations following the announcement, sending a stark message to the nonviolent organizers: You are our enemy. Nixon’s misguided action worsens a pervasive lack of effective leadership at a...

Net Neutrality Essential in Maintaining Worldwide Flow of Information, Ideas

Editorial Board

November 14, 2014

President Obama announced on Monday his support for protecting net neutrality — the principle that all internet traffic, from personal blogs to viral videos to CNN breaking news, should be treated equally by internet service providers. This welcome gesture did little, however, to convey the gravity of what’s at stake. Without net neutrality protections, internet service providers have the power — and the profit motive — to effectively redefine high-speed internet and its idea-sharing power as a privilege reserved for those already in positions of wealth and influence. Net neutrality is one of very few issues that affects virtually every American personally, yet very few understand it; in the words of comedian...

Street Harassment Discourse Disregards Intersectional Issues

Editorial Board

November 7, 2014

When online videos related to pressing social or political issues go viral, the mainstream media sometimes weighs in. This week, the online branches of media outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post and NPR did just that in response to the video gracing news feeds across the nation: the viral PSA commissioned by Hollaback!, an anti-street harassment group. The video’s premise is simple: A woman is filmed from a hidden camera carried in front of her as she walks around “all areas of Manhattan, wearing jeans and a crew-neck t-shirt” for 10 hours. The two-minute video compiles short clips from some of the “100+ instances of verbal street harassment” the video claims she experiences over the cour...

Disparities in Ebola Response Reveal Broader Health Care System Flaws

Editorial Board

October 31, 2014

At first glance, the swift diagnosis and isolation of Craig Spencer in New York City last week seemed to demonstrate improvement in the United States’ response to Ebola, the disease which has now killed nearly 5,000 people worldwide. Yet much remains unanswered in wake of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan’s death and the infection of two health care workers in Dallas earlier this month. The slip-ups that likely contributed to these events suggest that containment of the virus itself, while critical, is only the tip of the iceberg. Nearly everything about Ebola is terrifying — nearly. From the illness’s gruesome effects on the body, to the lack of testing laboratories in Liberia, to the pessimistic projectio...

Voting Measures Further Disenfranchise Minorities

Editorial Board

October 10, 2014

In a three-sentence order handed down last Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court further disenfranchised Ohio’s minority voters by upholding sweeping new limitations on the state’s early voting period. The order, a temporary stay granted by the Court’s conservative majority which suspends two lower court rulings, upheld Republican-backed voting restrictions signed into law by Governor John Kasich in February. The law specifically eliminated the early in-person voting period known as “Golden Week,” during which Ohio residents could register to vote and cast early ballots on the same day. These restrictions coincide with further measures enacted by Secretary of State Jon Husted just days later, which slashed Sundays...

SFC Cuts Hurt Quality, Accessibility of Publications

Editorial Board

October 3, 2014

At Oberlin, journalism falls largely outside the scope of any department and thus into the hands of student publications. We strive to report on issues that matter, helping students remain informed and empowering them to serve as voices for change within their community. But a recent financial decision endangers all that. This week, the Review Editorial Board is partnering with the editors of Wilder Voice to call attention to recent policy changes by the Student Finance Committee that threaten student journalism at Oberlin. The Committee’s recent budget cuts not only limit our organizations’ accessibility, but also are the result of the SFC’s willfully ignorant and biased decision-making process. In what we feel ...

Journalists Must Remove Racial Slurs from Lexicon

Editorial Board

September 26, 2014

A student newspaper at a high school in Pennsylvania this week found itself at the epicenter of an issue that has for decades posed challenges for journalistic outlets nationwide: what to do about the fact that a popular and profitable athletic mascot is widely regarded as a racial slur. Sports teams at Neshaminy High School in Langhorne, PA, share the controversial mascot that serves as the official name of the NFL team from Washington, D.C. For over a year, the Neshaminy Playwickian has attempted to distance itself from the epithet by refusing to print it, despite forceful opposition from the school’s administration. Last week, these tensions came to a head as school officials suspended the publication’s studen...

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