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Two for the price of one Inside N&E

In the Nov. 2 issue of News & Events (bottom corner, page 4), you’ll see photos of New York State Assemblymembers Susan John and Joe Morelle.

Democrats Morelle and John both visited the same location at RIT in these photos—the newly opened Center for Biosciences Education and Technology. And, both are pictured with students in the Bioprocess Operations certificate program. Is it important to readers—and voters—that we include two photos of these politicians?

In another instance, I was asked to move a quote from Rep. Randy Kuhl
(R-Hammondsport) to a more prominent place in an upcoming fuel-cell research grant story. I’m wondering if these kinds of “political moves” in News & Events sway readers’ votes in certain directions.

Personally, I would have preferred to skip publicizing the Morelle/John appearances altogether. After all, they’re not doing much—just shaking hands and kissing babies, so to speak.

Many times, politicians are responsible for securing government funds for RIT research and I fully support reporting this information. But, politicians from every party visit RIT all the time and I think documenting every “kissing baby” visit in News & Events is a waste of space.

  1. William Dube
    Nov 01

    In answer to Vienna's question I think it is important to promote the work local elected officials do on campus. Often, I do not think voters realize all of the efforts these individuals undertake on behalf of academic institutions, local school districts, neighborhood associations and health care agencies. Through securing funding, sponsoring needed legislation and providing constituent support local political leaders support these institutions and assist in enhancing mission and promoting future goals.

    Given all of the negative publicity, much of it deserved, that POLITICS receives I think it is important to promote the good work that POLITICAL LEADERS do.

    Saying that I would agree that as with all news stories the appropriate use of resources, RIT officials, students, outside actors, needs to be moderated.

    I should point out that I used to work for Assemblyman Morelle so I have a different perspective on this than most people. But I truly believe a vast majority of elected leaders are working in good faith to assist organizations like RIT and while their work should not be over promoted I think it is appropraite to publicize their efforts.

  2. Silandara
    Nov 01

    I think the work our local politicians do to get funding for RIT projects is great. But I don't think an appearance on campus warrants photos in News & Events. Especially as, in the interests of fairness, we need to give each politician equal play.

    Does it sway my vote? Nope. Does it make me question how much News & Events is about publicizing the really newsworthy events on campus and how much its influenced by other forces? Yeah.

    Having been behiind the scenes of News & Events, I understand how and why it happens. But I think it's space that could better be used to tell RIT's story in a way that reaches people better.

  3. Mike Saffran
    Nov 02

    First, kudos to Vienna for telling it like it is. This debate harkens back to my series of earlier posts on our role: news vs. public relations.

    Regarding the two photos to which Vienna refers: This is an instance in which PR clearly won out over news (because, truth be known, the politicians’ visits were not exceptionally newsworthy). It occasionally happens in our business, we’re used to it, and we accept the reasons behind it. That said, I believe Vienna and Pete Bella, our designer, handled the situation about as well as can be expected by running the second photo as an inset. (An alternative would’ve been choosing a single photo and referencing the other politician’s visit in the caption.)

    Great work, Vienna and Pete!

  4. Pedro
    Nov 02

    My answer to the original question in regards to swaying a readers' vote... Not Mine!

    My answer to the question about the inset photo, it isn't a 'preferred' method from a design standpoint...

    As a matter of fact, it is rather distracting from the message. We not only tell the message in the text of the phory, but we repeat it, TWICE - once more in the phory photo and again with the inset photo.

    A designer's task is to infuse content - text and image - with resonance. To add a level of understanding; an average reader scans a page before even beginning to read the text (whether realized or not), then a review of images and headlines, then the intro to the story, and maybe, just maybe, you've 'hooked' a reader to read your article. This all happens in just seconds as the reader turns from one page to the next. Information overload is creating an environment where people need to get to the information fast, thoroughly, and with simplicity.

    What's the point? To consider the messages which may, or may not, be portrayed.

    News worthy or not - If we cannot balance the text and imagery, we will detract readers from even wanting to check it out in the first place.

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