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White plays favorites, benches Spectrum

Student newspaper will not attend football road games for first time since 2006

Editor in Chief

Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013

Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 01:09


Spectrum File Photo

The Spectrum has attended every UB football game since 2006. We will not, however, be at Saturday's game at Baylor.

That is because UB Athletics, which funded our trips, decided this summer to no longer allow us to travel with the team. Athletic Director Danny White sees it as a conflict of interest for his department to pay the way for reporters to cover UB games.

In a perfect world, we would pay for our travel. But the fact of the matter is that The Spectrum is a shoestring organization. It is a privately funded, completely student-run publication. UB offers us no financial support, and neither does the Student Association. We're funded solely through advertising, and we can't afford the $600-700 per person for travel and hotel to cover road games. We drove to Ohio State for the season opener, but going to games at places like Baylor just isn't feasible.

The Spectrum has provided unparalleled coverage – in print, on our website and on social media – since 2006. The past four editors in chief have risen from senior sports editor. Our Sports Desk has received three national sports writing awards, including being named back-to-back Pacemaker finalists for Sports Story of the Year, in the past two years.

We consider ourselves one of the strongest student newspaper sports departments in the country.

The athletic department's money belongs to White, and he can do with it what he wishes. I didn't argue or complain when we lost the trips, but the more I have thought about UB Athletics' reasoning, the more it has troubled me.

It should be known that this decision belonged to nobody but White. He has two stated reasons for making it: First, UB Athletics sees The Spectrum traveling with the team as a conflict of interest, and second, we were told it was a budgetary decision.

Neither of these reasons, however, is legitimate.

The perceived conflict of interest does bother me, and it makes sense to me why people would think that. “Well,” someone might say, “if you travel with the team, you're clearly indebted to Athletics.”

But having been a sports reporter, senior sports editor and editor in chief at The Spectrum for three years, I can honestly say there has never once been an actual conflict of interest in covering the football team. We have reported the full truth, and that hasn't been a problem because that's what a newspaper does.

The Spectrum isn't a public relations outlet, twisting each story to look positive even when, in reality, the story is negative. Objectivity reigns supreme in journalism. If the football team loses by 40, are we supposed to write about that one sack UB had in the second quarter?

The breaking point for White, I was told, was when The Spectrum published a column after last year's 45-3 loss at Northern Illinois. The gist of the column's argument was that head coach Jeff Quinn should be fired. At that point, Quinn had a 6-24 record as UB's head coach. That means he had won one in every five games. He also refused to insert promising young quarterback Joe Licata – he has turned out well, hasn't he? – and insisted on sticking with Alex Zordich, whose stats had been anemic.

Was it that preposterous to call for Quinn's job?

After all, looking at the numbers, that's what an unbiased reporter would do – and that's what ours did. I would seriously question the credibility of any outlet that was praising Quinn or ignoring his struggles. One tenet of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics is to “seek truth and report it.”

Truth. That's a pivotal word. It was never a problem for us to tell the truth until the reality was that the team was dreadfully underachieving.

We were very thankful for the trips, but these were not vacations. We were working, and working hard, to provide a service to the students. We wrote previews, scouting reports, game stories, columns, live chats and Twitter updates – between two people. I always returned from games entirely exhausted. They were also two-day excursions that made keeping up with a full-time course load (and missing class) and full-time job at The Spectrum all the more difficult.

We do this because we love it, and we do it because students need to know what's happening from a student’s perspective. This paper is by students, for students. We are the middleman between UB Athletics and the student body. By limiting The Spectrum, White has made it clear he does not see communicating with the students as essential.

His disregard for us, the students, is ironic because we're the reason he has a job.

Warde Manuel, White's predecessor, understood the importance of a student newspaper. He knew students get their sports news about on-campus teams from The Spectrum. He understood we are a newspaper. Even when the coverage was critical, he grasped its necessity.

He got it. Danny White does not.

White thinks the school newspaper should support the team – and we do. Last week's football preview took up the entire newspaper. A poster of senior linebacker Khalil Mack covered the front page. White might find this hard to believe, but I'm asked constantly why we give the sports teams so much coverage and are so biased in their favor.

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Sat Sep 7 2013 11:39
Did you ever look at a UB away game and see who else is missing?? The spirit team!! If we are going to talk about game day experience and who should be there, it should be the individuals lifting the spirit of the entire UB fan section. The last time the spirit team traveled to a football game was in 2008, ironically the same year the football team won the championship.

I understand the importance of a representative of the Spectrum to be there, but take a look around, many other teams travel to games with their cheerleaders, dance team, band, mascot, etc. There isn't money in the budget for any of these individuals to go. Hopefully in the future we can expand our "NYBI" beyond UB Stadium and Alumni Arena, but for now I think we all need to focus on the hear and now. A great thing takes time!!

Fri Sep 6 2013 22:05
Keep digging Aaron!!!! You keep looking hard enough and you WILL uncover more despicable underhanded behavior from Mr. White. Don't hold your breath waiting for him to respond as snakes like to just slither away unnoticed.
Fri Sep 6 2013 16:35
The Spectrum, albeit an "Independent" newspaper is still the official newspaper for the UB campus and has a duty to write articles relevant to student and faculty life. Athletics may not be the main focus for many of those who attend UB, but it is definitely looking up and is a significant topic regardless. What Danny White did severely impacted The Spectrum writers and made their job of reporting the games much harder. He is not complaining about not being able to go on trips to other cities. He is stating facts that it is a not efficient to send two students as fans rather than to send two reporters who then in turn are able to write stories for the entire student body. This has nothing to do with me and I am very disappointed in the Athletic Director's choices.
Fri Sep 6 2013 11:28
Do UB Athletics pick up the traveling tab for any other media outlet? That's curiously absent from this column. No collegiate athletic department has any obligation whatsoever to assist in traveling expenses to independent media. I was the sports editor for a student paper covering a major BCS school. We never got our traveling expenses paid for and neither did the professional outlets. You were extremely privileged to receive that aid, and to complain you're no longer getting it makes you seem like a bitchy little child. If UB does not fork over cash to other media outlets to help them travel, then it would seem that they are now no longer playing favorites. You're getting the same treatment as everyone else in your field. If The Spectrum really wanted to be an independent paper, it never would have accepted that aid in the first place.

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