Ask the Editor

Does Tribune go easy on Cal Poly?

sduerr@thetribunenews.comFebruary 27, 2014 

Sandra Duerr

Q: Does The Tribune have an agreement with Cal Poly to not report on negative Cal Poly news? I have been getting more local news from Mustang News and Cal Coast News. … I do want to hear the good stuff about the Cal Poly chocolates and the poinsettia sales, etc., but you are doing the community a disservice by not reporting the negatives. Whatever happened to the coach shot in a drug deal gone bad? What about the suicides of students not reported? You owe it to the community to report that we are no longer SLO town, but speeding rapidly toward Isla Vista. — Linda White, San Luis Obispo

A: We don’t have an agreement with Cal Poly — or any other school, organization, government body, business or individual — to report news, good or bad. Moreover, I suspect that Cal Poly may disagree with you on our coverage, based on reaction we’ve received from time to time.

Our goal is to cover the news objectively, putting news in proper perspective — whether it’s Cal Poly’s proposed freshmen housing project on Grand Avenue and the neighbors’ negative reaction or the student involved in a drug deal. It has long been our policy not to cover suicides, unless they are in a public area or involve a prominent figure.

Perhaps you’ve missed some of our recent coverage:

• We reported Jan. 29 that charges were filed and an arrest warrant issued for one of two suspects involved in the November shooting of the former Cal Poly football player during an alleged drug deal gone bad. Today we reported on the arrest of that suspect, Brian Thomas Gonzales, a Castro Valley man who was taken into custody Friday in Hayward.

• We’ve written many stories addressing the Nov. 16 off-campus "Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos” fraternity party, which prompted a formal complaint to Cal Poly, and triggered an outcry, investigation and university efforts to address concerns about sensitivity and diversity awareness.

• We’ve editorialized on several issues, at times urging Cal Poly to change course.

• Tribune columnist Joe Tarica has commented on Cal Poly matters, criticizing the university Jan. 26, for example, for overusing the phrase “The Mustang Way.’’

• And we’ve regularly published viewpoints from members of the community who are opposed to some of Cal Poly’s policies and projects, such as one Jan. 23 from former San Luis Obispo mayor and Cal Poly professor of architecture Kenneth Schwartz, who suggested an alternative location for the proposed housing project.

That said, I disagree that San Luis Obispo is speeding toward becoming Isla Vista — a community that’s 0.6 square miles near UC Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department website notes that UCSB students account for about 60 percent of Isla Vista’s 23,000 residents and 35 percent of its crime and that the population can explode to 30,000 to 40,000 on weekends when outsiders come to party.

As always, if you or others would like to comment on Cal Poly matters — or other topics — we welcome your Letters to the Editor and Viewpoints, both in print and online on our website. Please email letters to letters@thetribunenews.com.

Do you have a question about the newspaper, our website or our coverage? If so, please write me c/o The Tribune, P.O. Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406-0112, or email me at sduerr@thetribunenews.com  . Follow me on Twitter @SandraDuerr.

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