Behind the paintball coverage

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November 17, 2008

8:49 PM

The Flat Hat’s news coverage of last Sunday’s Veteran’s Day events, “For Veteran’s Day, paintball”:http://flathatnews.com/content/69393/veteran%E2%80%99s-day-paintball/, has been criticized heavily, both online and in print, as disrespecting veterans and sensationalizing certain aspects of the events.

First, I would like to point out the differences between the article and “a staff editorial”:http://flathatnews.com/content/69372/paintball-disrespects-vets that appeared in the same issue. The editorial represents the view of The Flat Hat on issues of the day, but it does not color the news section’s coverage of any events.

The editorial is written by the editorial board, which is made up of and selected by the executive staff and section editors of The Flat Hat. I do not serve on the editorial board because my job is present the news of the College of William and Mary without bias. I cannot speak for any criticisms of the editorial, but I can speak for the news article.

The article discussed recruitment success at the American Legion booth and the Passing Notes performance, among other things. But it focused on paintball because it was a salient feature of the event.

When Lance Zaal ’09 of the Veteran’s Society requested more funding from the Student Assembly several weeks ago, many senators expressed hesitation over funding a paintball tournament for Veteran’s Day. Ultimately, they granted funding because of their content-neutral policy.

The dichotomy between veterans like Zaal, who wholeheartedly supported the paintball, and students in the SA, many of whose initial reaction was that the event could disrespect those who fought for this country, indicated that it would likely be the main focus of the article.

“For Veteran’s Day, paintball” accurately represented the event. It focused on a part of the event that is both interesting and divisive. Further, the headline passes no judgment. Headlines should represent the article accurately but succinctly.

In hindsight, we should have also written about the sacrifices that veteran members of the Tribe have made for this nation. But we have learned from the experience and can only hope to improve next time.

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