Cav. Daily: Hook’s UVa Coverage “Viciously Slanted”

In today’s Cavalier Daily, columnist Nick Chapin devotes his column space to attacking The Hook (“Bad journalism at its worst“), saying that, in their recent coverage of UVa-related issues, they “cast aside the most basic journalistic principle, objectivity, in favor of viciously slanted reporting.” Chapin picks out three recent Hook stories — “The verdict: Sisk’s family speaks out,” “Gags off: Students speak out on rape,” and “How UVA turns its back on rape” — and says that in the case of all three stories, the weekly “marred coverage of serious topics with manipulation and blatant invective.” Two of the articles in question are by staff writer Lisa Provence, and one is by senior editor Courtney Stuart. Is this just a case of an upstart college student upset to find his school on the wrong end of the news cycle? Or are the accusations true, and has The Hook failed to live up to basic journalistic standards?

16 thoughts on “Cav. Daily: Hook’s UVa Coverage “Viciously Slanted””

  1. i’ll agree that the hook’s articles this chapin guy cited were pretty one-sided. but the hook ain’t exactly a "real" newspaper.

  2. They should talk… That newspaper is the FoxNews of college newspapers…Maybe thats a lil harsh but the kids up here need to get use to the fact that "townies" as they call us dont exactly have a fovorable view of them. Maybe if they werent so rude to workers and just thought for a moment that people dont like being called a "townie" in a condecending then the local media wouldnt be so hostile towards them…

  3. I believe it’s quite reasonable to ask if the Hook is holding the University to a higher standard. If the Charlottesville couldn’t bring the matter to trial, isn’t it unreasonable to have it fixed by a student court? If a court systen with real lawyers, police officers and all that that implies can’t bring this matter to court what chance does UVa have? The fact that the accused wouldn’t comment makes it a much weaker story.

  4. the cav daily calling you a bad journalist is kinda like scott peterson calling you a bad husband. it just don’t jive.

  5. Yeah, so the Hook maybe was critical of UVa in the sexual assault story and the Sisk story. No one is claiming that they got any of the facts wrong, though, or omitted crucial facts. Chapin seems in a snit because the Hook didn’t "give equal time" (not his words, maybe, but the words I hear all the time in these kinds of arguments) to "both sides."


    Sorry. I just think we’ve fetishized this notion of "objectivity" (which, in its pure state, is unattainable by humans, IMHO), and perhaps even worse, we’ve confused "objectivity" with "giving equal time to both sides." As if every topic had only two sides and all anyone needs to do is hear a statement from the "pro" people and then a statement from the "con" people. As if justice were served by letting person A get up and talk and then Person B get up and talk–as if that’s all it takes to understand an issue. Like if we all have our turn, our equal time, as if that is the extent of our obligation to analyze something. It’s so Point-Counterpoint, which just seems so useless.

    sorry, i went off on a rant there.

  6. he would have used his column to explore the flipsides of those stories, rather than blasting the hook for not doing it themselves.

    they need to bring back the UJ. it was a horrible paper too, but at least they had the brute squad and l’il gus.

  7. It would be easy for somebody to misinterpret your "objectivity overrated" statement, but I want to say that I couldn’t agree more. This is most obvious with stories about environmental degradation, such as global warming. The media, in an attempt to appear unbiased, presents two sides of the story: the 99.999% of environmental researchers who know the global warming is real, and then Bjorn Lomborg saying that it’s not. But it’s not presented in that manner, but instead as "scientists disagree," showing first one guy, then Lomborg, and that’s "objective."

    Screw that. Objectivity is, as you say, overrated.

  8. yes, that’s an example of what i mean. evolution would be another example; most scientists/biologists/etc. accept evolutionary theory as valid, but then there’s a few creationists. and then you get state school boards saying "well, out of fairness to both sides, we should present the opposition to evolution in our textbooks and science classes."

    it’s just that i read a lot of freshman essays in my line of work and the students seem thoroughly brainwashed by this point-counterpoint or crossfire approach, which I think leads to increasing polarization. there’s a sense that you have to take a pro or a con position and then blast away at your opponents. there’s very little sense that we should work together, collaboratively and cooperatively, toward a solution that suits and respects all positions. i think that problem is an offshoot of this point-counterpoint thing.

  9. The most recent Hook has what it calls a clarification about its article ‘How UVA Turns Its Back on Rape’. It clarifies that while the Hook accused UVA of violating federal law, the Clery Act does not say that the outcome of sexual assualt cases must be made public. UVA seems to be in full compliance with the law, even if the Hook wants to disagree with its policy on moral grounds. This clarification sounds pretty grudging and half-hearted. If they had accused me of violating a federal law that they apparently hadn’t bothered to read, I would be looking for an apology, not a ‘clarification’. Also, I found the clarification on the web, so I’m not sure where it lands in the print version. I’m guessing though, that its not on the front page. I’ve never found it quite right that a paper can publish a front page article making a claim, then if they turn out to be wrong, bury a retraction (or ‘clarification’) in fine print on A16. I’d like to see parity – if your page 1, 30 point headline made a false claim, the retraction should be 30 points on page 1.

  10. Hey…I was (long long ago) the news editor for the UJ and we were……..well, actually it was a horrible paper.

    At least we weren’t and aren’t the CD though. Little FoxNews Bill O’reilly clones growing on trees over there.

    And…UVA’s stance on sexual assault, the way they treat victims and protect those who the school itself has said committed sexual assualt and/or rape is abhorrent. If the Hook got some things wrong along the way on this, I’ll live with it because the University is pretty much entirely in the wrong on the whole issue. I also don’t want to hear about "compliance with federal law" as federal law doesn’t really do a blessed thing to protect people who have been assaulted sexually.

    As I’ve been arguing for a bit now over at the old U…sexual assualt should qualify as an Honor offense (along with lying, cheating and/or stealing) and if you’re convicted by whatever body the University empanels with due process…you should be gone. Period.

  11. My deal with this whole thing is that people expect the University to take the lead on sexual assualts. Rape is a felony, a very serious crime just barely less serious than murder in my own opinion. I keep hearing stories where someone says "I was raped, I went to the dean’s office, and they did nothing about it", but they never went to the cops. These cases should be taken to the police, not to academic administrators, and the criminals should be put on trial – Not honor trial, real trial, and put in real prison when they’re found guilty. Sure, kick them out of school if they’re guilty, but it won’t matter, because they’ll be in prison.

    UVA doesn’t know what to do about sexual assualt other than education and such because its so far beyond their scope. We didn’t expect John Casteen or a student group to investigate when a student killed someone, nor would we expect them to solve an arson or any other crime involving a student. This is serious, too serious to leave a panel of 18 year olds in charge.

  12. i’ll admit, i was confused by this:

    According to the prosecution, Robert Alston checked into the Cavalier Inn at 8am on November 8, 2003, about six and a half hours after the stabbing. As Charlottesville is approximately a four-hour drive from Pennsylvania, the timeline suggests that Robert Alston was already on the road before his son’s 3:52am arrest.

    how does the timeline suggest alston’s dad was already on the road? it looks like the guy drove to cville, checked into a hotel, and then went to the police station? if he checked in at 8am, and cville is approx. a 4 hour drive, and the arrest was at 3:52am, that sounds right – i’m guessing the dad would have gotten the call right around the time of the arrest (i could see alston and/or his brother avoiding the call to dad until the actual arrest).

    now of course, if dad was at the police station at 6am and then went and checked into his hotel, then the timeline would suggest he got a call soon after stabbing. but the article doesn’t say that. actually, the article presents a reasonable timeline and then uses it to suggest that dad was already in action even before alston was "officially" in trouble.

  13. assuming a 4 hour drive, having him checking in at 8am puts him leaving home at 4am, 8 minutes after his son was arrested. 8 minutes is not a whole lot of time to be awakened by a late-night phone call (assuming he was asleep at the time), talk to your son or the police, get dressed, pack a bag for several days on the road, get your other affairs in order, then head off into the night. and that doesn’t even take into account factors like traffic, stopping for gas, breakfast, etc. etc. sure, a concerned parent probably makes good time in such instances, but still…i would imagine alston or his brother made the call to pop long before any arrests were made. they knew they were in hot shyte.

  14. all i’m saying is, it’s not unreasonable to say the guy got the call and was on the road a few minutes later with just the first clothes he grabbed and his wallet and cell phone. he had plenty of time during the drive to make the necessary calls. he could have had a full tank of gas, hit no traffic, and brought an apple to eat.

    i agree, someone probably called pops prior to the arrest, but i just didn’t see a reason to brand the father a bad guy over the notion that he made a 4 hour drive in a 4 hour and 8 minute window of opportunity. personally, i would have checked mapquest as i think 4 hours could be a conservative estimate and it would have presented a stronger case to say the guy made a 5 hour drive in a 4 hour and 8 minute window of opportunity.

  15. "but i just didn’t see a reason to brand the father a bad guy over the notion that he made a 4 hour drive in a 4 hour and 8 minute window of opportunity."

    I don’t think that the Hook story was branding him a bad guy b/c this one time he may have gotten in his car super-quick and sped down to cville. I think instead what the Hook was pointing to is a pattern whereby the elder Alston seemed constantly to have bailed his son out of every scrape he got into–kind of an aggressive interventionist approach that, some suggest, may have led to Andrew Alston becoming incapable of understanding what it means to pay the consequences of your actions.

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