The privileged young people of Harvard College are not often recognized for their integrity and backbone. They made a whole movie about how Zuckerberg stole Facebook from the terrible Winklevoss twins, for instance. And just last week more than 100 Harvard students came under fire for a cheating scandal that reportedly found them plagiarizing and colluding with one another on the take-home final exam. But today, two editors at the Harvard Crimson are returning some credibility to the ivy-est of Ivy League schools.
In an open letter to their readers, Crimson President E. Benjamin Samuels and Crimson Managing Editor Julie M. Zauzmer, both from the class of 2013, addressed the journalistic problem of "quote review" on campus. That is, the policy of most of Harvard's leadership to demand to see and then manipulate at their discretion quotes they give to Crimson staffers before articles go to print. Samuels and Zauzmer are sick of it, and, under their tenure, the practice won't be allowed anymore. They explained their decision thusly:
The Crimson has had a years-long agreement with [Harvard Public Affairs and Communications] that allowed interviews only on the condition of quote review with several administrators, and of late, more and more Harvard leaders have only agreed to speak to Crimson reporters if they could approve their quotes prior to publication. As a result, their quotations have become less candid, less telling, and less meaningful. These interviews are ceasing to fulfill their purpose-to capture and channel the forthright, honest words of Harvard's decision-makers to all those who might be affected by the decisions. It is time for these constrained interviews to come to an end.
In August, we enacted a new policy at The Crimson forbidding our reporters from agreeing to interviews on the condition of quote review without the express prior permission of the President or the Managing Editor. Given our belief that quote review runs counter to the most important principles of openness and truth on which journalism is grounded, we do not foresee that we will be willing to grant such permission to our reporters this semester.
No word yet on whether the administration is now considering changing its quote review policy, but this letter is wonderful regardless. Remember all the great stuff you could do before life slowly pummeled your courage and drive into a fine powder you then washed away with booze?