As we enter into our new editorial positions at The Michigan Daily, we find ourselves at the crossroads of campus, on the cusp of moments interrogating sexual harassment, racism at the University of Michigan and the intersections of inequity. Getting the news right has never been more important. And more than ever, our readers are at the heart of what we do.
It’s a new year at the news desk. Allow us to reintroduce ourselves.
We live and work on a campus that is 65 percent white, and where two-thirds of students are in the top 20 percent of the income bracket. Ann Arbor wears the mask of a liberal bubble, but students and administrators with privilege create all sorts of unfair playing fields across campus.
We also acknowledge The Daily has reproduced this inequity. The list of repeated mistakes goes on, from inaccurate headlines to racist cartoons to misgendering to sometimes overlooking stories altogether. In order to move forward, we must acknowledge our past.
The same stale demographics that plague the University pervade our staff as well. Eighty-five percent of news reporters are white, and nearly 45 percent hail from household incomes of $200,000 a year or more.
We can’t listen, read and report accurately through homogeneity. Which is why we’re investing in reporters from underrepresented backgrounds, closing gaps in financial aid opportunities and training our current editors to own their privilege. We commit to leveling the playing field in reporting and recruiting this year. We commit to equity.
As we write this letter, administrators limit the release of information on Richard Spencer’s request to speak on campus. Greek life chapters refer to action plans in response to patterns of hazing and sexual assault. Tuition rates and yearly budgets tick up every year. Important details get lost in the moving parts of tense politics at the University, in Ann Arbor and across the country.
The Daily is positioned to hold all of these players accountable and amplify those speaking truth to power. We recognize the role we play as the only daily print publication in the county. This year, we’re increasing the number of FOIAs we file, getting more public officials on the record (and live streamed!) and sourcing information from our readers.
(Do you have an issue you think needs investigating? Send a tip via this live form.)
We commit to not just keeping track of those in power, but keeping them in check, too. We commit to accountability.
More than anything else, we commit to you, the reader. There is no one more important to this work than you, your tips and your trust.
We know trust must be earned. We ask you to hold us to the promises and goals we’ve laid out here, and to call us on our mistakes.
We have a duty to serve the contract between ourselves and our readers — the student body and Ann Arbor community— as best as we can. “Best” has meant different things in the last few years: efficiency, speediness or being digitally-minded. For the students of color and first-generation students, the survivors and the undocumented, for all those underserved by our paper in years past: this year, we won’t forget equity and accountability along the way.