I am writing to address the concerns over two articles published in Vol. 6 Issue 4 of The Octant on March 10, 2017. The articles entitled ‘Behind the scenes: Organizing controversial events at Yale-NUS’ and ‘Public Affairs Role in Yale-NUS Branding’ have drawn negative attention due to either factual inaccuracies, or one-sided accounts of a controversial issue, or both. I would like to address the problems within the articles, before formally apologizing and addressing the larger issue of work ethic within the organization and the rigor of our edits.
In ‘Behind the Scenes: Organizing controversial events at Yale-NUS’, the tone of the article was unnecessarily critical of Public Affairs (PA), for example stating that PA “denied” the organizer the option of a larger audience of NUS students. Though the organizer might have felt that this was the case, the fact is that PA plays an advisory, and not declarative role in event organization, and the previous iteration of the article did not properly convey this message. The article has since been corrected, and can be accessed here.
In ‘Public Affairs Role in Yale-NUS Branding’, the writer did not maintain sufficient contact with PA, and quoted parts of the interview with a member of the Yale-NUS Bookstore out of context and thus made factually inaccurate claims. The article has been withdrawn from our webpage, and is being corrected for errors. We apologise for the circulation of its contents in our print issue and will ensure this does not happen again. PA also expressed their concerns over the article in an extended letter to the editors, and it can be read in full here.
That being said, I urge the college not to place the blame on our writers, or take any of their work too personally. Last week was a particularly hectic time for us, with instructions not dealt out properly or on time due to a change in management that is slowly happening over the last few weeks of the semester. In light of these loose ends, I formally apologize on behalf of The Octant for not upholding high journalistic standards, and to PA, Yale-NUS Bookstore and to the other relevant parties for the repercussions that have resulted.
A hallmark of a good organization lies in its ability to not only deliver a quality product, but to admit to its lack and make the relevant changes where necessary. We have convened as an editing board, and have come up with a rigorous set of editing procedures. These range from better communication between editors and writers to more rigorous fact-checking and interviewing procedures for potentially controversial pieces. We will also regularly remind our writers to approach every article with objective eyes and never with their own interpretation of the issue.
As stated on our website: “we believe in transparency and accountability, and we champion these through honest and insightful reporting.” These are the values we will always seek to uphold, to not only be insightful and thorough, but also honest and objective.
Justin Ong, Managing Editor, The Octant