After recognizing its ability to capture attention from media giants such as The Texas Tribune, CNN, and the Houston Chronicle, The Battalion realized that it must follow the examples of those outlets to become their contemporary. Articles must be published that harness opinion as fact and convince the reader there exists only one interpretation of an event.
This push began when coverage of unethical investments in the Permanent University Fund by The Battalion made national headlines. As the attention The Battalion received waned, reporters were left scrambling to get the freshest story. Charlie Mabury, Batt reporter and junior communications major, said, “We could only milk the Sudan story for so long; I mean, I never got tired of reporting on our journalism award, but what can you do? In the past few months, everyone started to show signs of what we call ‘The Hunger.’ It has been such a rush moving beyond the latest football game or philanthropy event.
Conveniently, in late November, The Battalion learned of white nationalist Richard Spencer’s event on campus. Seizing the moment, The Battalion released an article about the visit which was picked up by state news outlets before being relayed nationally.
As the attention The Battalion received waned, reporters were left scrambling to get the freshest story.
Student Wade Peck, a senior visualization major, believes it was about controlling the narrative. “The incident would have gone unnoticed, as it was organized without the knowledge of any students. I didn’t even know who Richard Spencer was until they published that article. Students could have been banner-holding for his event and I would have never even realized what was going on.” Once hitting the national spotlight, The Battalion was able to control public opinion about the incident by printing a series of op-eds about the controversy they created.
In the wake of such monumental coverage since last December, many wonder what will happen if another controversy does not arise soon. Mabury highlighted how desperate the reporters have been getting. “If something big doesn’t stir up soon, they’ll put me back on movie reviews. I can’t go back to movie reviews.”
Students across campus have a growing concern that the desire for national attention within The Battalion has consumed it and that, lacking controversy, the paper is willing to create it on their own. “When The Battalion creates a controversy they are the only ones with the story,” said Ben McInnes, a junior astrology major. “Don’t you see that it was a reporter from The Battalion who placed the glow sticks in the video? Look at the swath of data they had to push the voter intimidation narrative. They threw the election to have controversy—and clicks—through all of March.”
Other students believe The Battalion’s willingness to break the most exciting story goes even deeper than the recent SBP elections. “Can’t you see they invited Richard Spencer to campus? I mean how on earth could they have known he was coming if it was a former student in Russia?” said Frank Madison, a sophomore ALED major. “I bet it was The Battalion who passed the article to Rick Perry, knowing his remarks would increase the magnitude of it all?”
“They threw the election to have controversy—and clicks—through all of March.”
Many students fear that The Battalion, having learned how to control the narrative and spin events to match their view, is now behind the hard-hitting stories people say they should be reporting on.
—GingerbRedass & Netflix and Drill