Student newspaper under fire for running an informed opinions article

Photo by Brandon Hillier
Photo by Brandon Hillier
Photo by Brandon Hillier

SFU’s student paper is facing criticism for publishing an opinions-related election article in the newspaper’s opinions section.

The article, which appeared in the March 23 issue of The Peak, was titled “The Peak picks their 2015 SFSS candidates” and included endorsements for six candidates running in the then upcoming Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) elections. However, when posted online, the piece received several accusations that the opinions article was biased and didn’t belong in a publication meant to incite further dialogue.

“I can’t believe how clearly biased this article is,” one online commenter posted via Facebook. “The newspaper’s staff have no right to make educated endorsements based on previous professional experiences with candidates running in the election. Who the hell do they think they are? I might not have any experience with running a newspaper, but I think I know how a newspaper should be run.”

The piece in question was a collaborative effort between 12 of the newspaper’s staff members; informal votes were anonymously cast, compiled, and then elaborated on to create digestible information for interested readers. According to sources, the staff’s intention had been to mimic what most major newspapers already do and use its extensive prior knowledge of the candidates to vocalize who they thought would perform best as part of the SFSS board.

“I bet The Peak are just endorsing whoever they’re all friends with,” said another online commenter. “It’s very unreasonable that they didn’t endorse my friend, who’s also running. If they can’t endorse both their friends and my friends, then they shouldn’t be endorsing anyone at all. How is that reporting objectively?!”

Concerns were also raised about whether a newspaper should be allowed to print the article and file it online under the opinions section, since it’s clearly just an opinion and some people might somehow mistake it for news.

“What if someone reads this, doesn’t realize that it’s an opinions article [. . .] and blindly follows the endorsements?” Another commenter said, as part of a 859-word post. “People are totally unable to develop an opinion without having it spoonfed to them, so this puts the non-endorsed candidates at a huge disadvantage.

“It’s not about the extensive objective reporting they’ve done in previous issues, like their election special. This one article has made me lose total respect for the whole publication. Forever!”

Aside from a short, supplementary post the aforementioned Facebook update, The Peak has yet to officially comment on the negative feedback, but sources say the staff hopes people can learn to think for themselves and not blindly follow what they read, regardless of how it’s being presented to them.