Political predictions in 2016 sucked. Before Hillary even blew what was proclaimed to be the most predictable election outcome, the Republican nomination of Donald Trump to run for president sent America’s trust in mass media to an all time low. Why? Well let’s ask the news networks that never prepared the American public for President Trump. Everyone on November 8th seemed to be talking about his election as if it were a foreign language in an alternate universe.
This heightened suspicion of mainstream media is nothing new to a handful of students at Texas Christian University. Throughout the past year the university’s student-run news site known as TCU360, received criticism for failing to accurately cover student activity and current events. In fact, a few students got so fed up with the main news source for their campus, so they started their own. You could say they really thought it was #NotMyNewspaper.
Since 2011, the Department of Journalism in the Bob Schiffer College of Communications at Texas Christian University has sponsored TCU360 with its journalism majors and minors. Their chief contributors come specifically from the students in the JOUR 30204 course for Reporting. It has multiple platforms for interest podcasts, local news, school matters, and current politics. With all that this site covers, it’s hard to imagine that there were any stories that the student media missed. A group of attentive students believes otherwise, as they have been keeping note of the underlying bias developing in what has been published by the student media. Here is what these students think TCU360 has gotten wrong:
There are have been discrepancies on how TCU360 has covered speakers that have come to campus, conservatives in particular. The TCU Young Americans for Freedom chapter hosted Colonel Allen West the spring semester of 2016 and Ben Shapiro that following semester. TCU 360 had one article of student reactions to West’s presentation, an opinion piece by a professor slamming him, and a graphic accusing him of being anti-Islamic.
TCU360’s filmed copy of West’s entire presentation: never released. Not even to the club that sponsored him. It gets sketchier with Ben Shapiro’s visit. An article was published prior to the event emphasizing other schools perceptions of as Shapiro controversial. The article then mentions the recent implementation of the Chief Inclusion Office, as if the school already assumed Shapiro would be trouble before he got a chance to even speak on their campus. Following the event, TCU360 posted yet another article documenting student reactions to the event, but again no video. The only other piece TCU360 chose to publish regarding the event was a professor’s opinion piece disputed the solid facts (I guess the truth is hard to understand) Shapiro had used in his argument. Twitter that evening was filled with false quotes from his speech, including accusing Shapiro of calling Chancellor Boschini a “son of a bitch.” I personally emailed TCU360 contributors to gain access to their film of the event to clear Shapiro’s name of this accusation. Even then, my emails received no reply and the full video has yet to be shared with anyone but the TCU360 staff.
Another event students noticed that TCU360 completely failed to cover was both the national March for Life in Washington, D.C. and the Rally for Life in Austin, Texas. College students from all over the state attended the Texas march, including members of the TCU Students for Life group. What’s wrong with not writing about it? TCU360’s coverage of the both local and national Women’s Marches, just a week prior to the pro-life marches, received far more attention. In fact, the women’s march received four separate articles on TCU360, compared to zero addressing the turnout for the March for Life. By covering one march with a predominantly liberal base, while ignoring the other march with a much more conservative base, questions of bias can be raised.
TCU students Annabel Scott, Ashley Sherman, and Matthew VanHyfte came up with a solution for TCU360’s bias and lack of equal coverage. This week they launched The Freedom Frog, a news site created to give a voice to conservative views and concerns that the main student media hasn’t addressed. Their mission statement reads, “The Freedom Frog offers an alternative perspective of campus and national news by providing honest content, intellectual diversity, and rational analysis for the Texas Christian University community.” Interested contributors are invited to contact Annabel Scott, the Editor-In-Chief, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of their first articles has already drawn attention a professor supposedly mocking conservative students on his personal Twitter. If this is just the beginning of what The Freedom Frog exposes, who knows what is yet to come… #FreeTheFrog