On one level what seemed to be the theme and purpose of this panel — helping diversity officers figure out how to pitch their pet programs to the press — would have struck many professional journalists as inherently problematical, or at least it would have in the old days. Even today I suspect eyebrows would be raised in some circles if reporters covering politics for the mainstream press appeared on a panel at a meeting of partisan political consultants to one party designed to help them hone their message...
He (Scott Jaschik of InsideHigher Ed) went way, way beyond telling his audience to “tell me what I should write,” an invitation that he attempted to cover with the pro-forma declaration that he might not always accede to their wishes. Mentioning several times that the “critics of affirmative action” were much better at dealing with the press, he “volunteered some help” at press relations, help that he offered to keep “completely off the record,” that suggests an unusual (or at least I hope it is unusual) view of the role of the press.
He offered, for example, to hold off the record coaching sessions where he would “pretend that I’m Fox News” and ask the sort of questions Fox News would ask. “It’s not my job as a journalist to tell you what to say,” he said with what sounded like a wink, “but I can tell you how it sounds.”
I'd be more OK with this is members of the press admitted their biases up front, like I do here at Right On The Left Coast. At least then you're better able to judge their veracity instead of buying into the lie of objectivity.