College newspapers are the training ground for reporters and columnists, and offer a chance to do a little writing with training wheels. That said, it is real, honest-to-God journalism. As the Cavalier Daily‘s ombudsman, Jeremy Ashton, recently wrote: “I firmly believe student newspapers should be taken seriously. They get the same press releases professional newspapers do, usually get equal access and sometimes produce better articles.” I’ve found over the years that the Cav. Daily is hit-or-miss, but the contributors have been consistently forthright with their errors and pleasant to converse with on the topic of Charlottesville news, as I inevitably do, what with cvillenews.com. Except for today, when I had a brief, sour exchange with columnist Ali Ahmad, included below. [Note: Editor Chris Wilson points out via e-mail that Ahmad is not on the paper’s staff. This is a one-off.] Should we expect Cavalier Daily’s contributors to take the paper seriously, or ought we take it no more seriously than its writers? Is it unreasonable to expect a college paper to adhere to the same standards as traditional media, since it is a product of those with little to no experience? Is it just “a rag,” in Ahmad’s words? 09/20 Update: The Cavalier Daily’s ombudsman has quite satisfactorily addressed Mr. Ahmad’s conduct in a column today. Ahmad is also the target of one of the paper’s comics, Metro Center.
In your article in today’s Cavalier Daily, “Swinging to the right,” you provide Al Weed with the nickname “Instant Runoff Voting.” I’m about as familiar with Mr. Weed’s campaign as anybody, and, to my knowledge, he has not campaigned on any platform of IRV. In fact, IRV would make no difference at all in his election, given that there is no third party candidate.
To what are you referring with this odd nomenclature?
http://www.alweed2004.com/issue_electoral.htm… 7th item down. I was just picking out the most ludicrous sounding part of his platform. There used to be a lot more about Mr. Weed in my article, but for space considerations it had to be cut. My greater point is that Candidate Weed, while an honorable servant of his country, and a probably all around great guy, is a pretty left wing candidate, it’s not something the kids at UVA or the CVL community at large would care about, but as for the majority of the 5th district- I’m sure they’d like to know he holds such a radical electoral reform position.
To characterize a candidate based on a single paragraph — two sentences — in their platform on a rather mundane issue is a bit silly. It would be different if it were something for which Mr. Weed were known to campaign strongly, but this just isn’t something that’s in his stump speech. Your referral to instant runoff voting in specific is particularly odd, given that IRV is neither a Democratic nor a Republican issue (with both McCain and Dean strongly supporting it), and is limited in popularity to conservatives or liberals. It is, in fact, favored by the majority of electoral statisticians and those who study the electoral process. Opposition to IRV is found only among those who play the lottery — those who are, shall we say, “mathematically challenged.” For more information about IRV, I recommend reading the Center for Voting and Democracy’s website about it, at http://www.fairvote.org/irv/.
A cursory review of Mr. Weed’s platform reveals some traits more closely associated with the Democratic Party to which you could have referred. Universal health care, a balanced budget, funding social security, opposition to the president’s war in Iraq, and environmental protection are all primary planks in Mr. Weed’s platform, none of which are found in his opponent’s or, for that matter, in those of the overwhelming majority of Republican candidates for the House of Representatives this year.
It is worth mentioning, as well, that the resolution of the question of whether the incumbents in Virginia are going to be reelected needs no consideration of matters such as “elbow grease” or even the quality of the candidate. In the 2002 elections, 98.5% of the members of the House of Representatives seeking reelection retained their seats. There are any number of scholarly works to which you can refer for the reasons that this is true, but suffice it to say that nether party affiliation nor “elbow grease” have been shown to be significant predictors of reelection likelihood. It’s just a question of incumbency.
Do you have a job? What are you doing parsing a 700 word guest column written by the UVA CR chairman in a rag like The Cavalier Daily? What are you doing READING it in the first place? You’ve defintiely taken far more time to read it than I took to write it. You got a problem with that- give me a phone call, please. You’ve got a Blacksburg P.O. Box… I hope and pray you are a UVA student so that this makes some sort of sense! Get over it! IRV comes across as silly when you first think about it.. and that is all the time I’ve had to give it! I won’t click on the link you sent me today, tomorrow, or possibly until right before I delete this conversation out of Gmail… and maybe not then. I’m not going to even take the time to re-read this email. You are coming across as a man who is seeking satisfaction in your life, perhaps you need the love of a good woman. Perhaps you need to go work as a firefighter in Alaska. DO NOT reply to this email, I absolutely do not have the time or desire to read it.