I am writing with concern on the recent story “Senators to debate on campus” regarding Thursday's debate between incumbent Sen. Wendy Davis and Rep. Mark Shelton. There were several “red flags” in the story, beginning with the headline. Shelton is currently a State Representative, not a Senator. While this might change following the election, the headline states both are senators, rather than correctly indicating its status as a senatorial debate. I see this was changed for tcu360, but find it incorrect in the Skiff.
The initial pull quote from Davis immediately concerned me. Not only did its placement confuse me, as I initially associated the fourth and fifth graphs of the story with the “Zipcar” story below, but its content was surprising. I am aware that Davis is a TCU graduate, but the prominence of her pull quote combined with the lack of input from Shelton was alarming. Though the story continued to explain the format of tomorrow’s debate, page two included significantly more input from Davis than Shelton.
Not only was Davis given more room, but she was allowed to present a rebuttal to Shelton, which can be found in the last graph of the story. No opportunity was afforded to Shelton to defend his position, nor was adequate space given to Shelton to provide a fair and unbiased opportunity to report on the debate. As a supporter of Shelton, I do recognize my own bias, and feel such biases are inevitable amongst those who pay attention to politics. However, there was significantly less information about him, and the sheer word count of Shelton’s quotes compared to that of Davis speaks for itself, as does the lack of a pull quote for Shelton.
The comment “Davis voted against Gov. Rick Perry’s most recent state budget…” was additionally incorrect. Perry has little involvement in drafting the Texas budget. The Texas Constitution does not give the governor authority in the actual process—though Perry championed that budget plan, it is not his, and it is incorrect to indicate that it is.
Finally, I was disappointed with the lack of student and faculty contribution to the story. The headline notes that tomorrow’s debate is coming to campus, placing the university in the public eye as a player in local politics. More information on tomorrow’s debate, including student reactions, may have made the story more about TCU’s connection and less about the positions Shelton and Davis advocated in the previous debate. As it is a high honor to host this debate, more from the TCU community might have made the story more true to its headline.
Thank you for your time, and for including this race in today's issue. I look forward to reading about the debate after the fact, and hope these points will be considered in the future.
Laura Donnelly is a senior political science major