Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 17. July 23, 1968
The Right and the Wrong
The Right and the Wrong
Sir—The indictment of the press as claiming "power without ressponsibility, the prerogative of the harlot through the ages", has been splendidly fulfilled by you during your short term as editor of Salient.
An unfortunate combination of arrogance and immaturity can to some degree be blamed for this: while explaining, it does not excuse the attitudes which forced me, with some regret, to resign as a contributing editor. This is amplified by your comments regarding my resignation as printed in your last issue.
It is entirely evident that you remain reluctant to act in a responsible manner as editor. You appear unable to grasp the simple principle that your opinions, such as they are. belong in your editorials and in signed features. It should be no part of your job to play down, and attempt to belittle, articles with whose conclusions you happen to disagree.
To an unsophisticated, or to a fanatical mind, it may appear that one's own opinions are the only true and correct ones, to betreated in a "normal" manner. Those not fortunate enough to fall into this category must, to such a mentality, be placed on one side, under a sneering headline, together with photographs calculated to draw attention away from the test, and to subject it to criticism unrelated to its context.
Objective layout and sub-editing are not incompatible with strongly held political views, Writing from some experience in this field, while Political Editor of Craccum several years ago, my particular views were disagreed with by almost every contributor.
At no time did I receive any complaint as to my handling of their articles. It is to he regretted that you feel so insecure in your views that you must treat others so subjectively.
While tribute must he paid to the work required in making Salient a weekly publication, it can only be a cause for regret that mediocrity and a total lack of originality have characterised its columns.
It is particularly noteworthy that while flourishing the banner or rebellion. Salient has remained, in its editorial attitudes completely in conformity with what its editor appears to think to be fashionable student thought.
This was emphasised by your treatment of P. J. Kelly's letter (with which I do not sympath-ise).Here was a protest with a difference, and it was amusing to see the way the flood of letters in reply was censored to give a balanced, "liberal" answer, That some of the replies from African students contained sentiments as racialist in tone as those of Kelly is regrettable, but it is no excuse for presenting a distorted selection.
Finally, Neil Wright's kindly bouquets notwithstanding, your attitude towards campus polities has remained cowardly and ineffectual. It has been suggested that your reluctance to print articles (not by me) regarding the activities of certain elderly ex-students is connected with your aspirations for the next student elections.
Specific comment is made of the fact that your well-publicised intention to stand for President of Students' Association may not be rewarded favourably if you antagonise left-wing groupings within the University by over-truthful reporting of their activities.
It is to be hoped that one day you will learn the difference between explanation and distortion, and between a headline and denigration. Until then. I must request that my resignation be confirmed.
I remain, etc.,
J. H. Mitchell.
[Jim Mitchell complained to me earlier this year about the inclusion with an article by him on L.B.J.s policy in Vietnam a rather colourful photograph of Jim Mitchell himself, giving a speech to pro-war demonstrators outside Parliament. More recently he tendered his resignation because of the head put on one of his articles "What Omega is— Jim Mitchell (Right wing commentator)". While hesitating to indulge in personal comment I would suggest that if these are his reasons for resigning he is lightly over-sensitive.
I think also I should point out some factual errors in the letter above.
(1) There was "censorship" only of letters opposing P. J. Kelly's letter. I did not have the opportunity to censor any letter supporting Mr Kelly, for none was received.
(2) There is only one article regarding the activities of "certain elderly ex-students" which I have been reluctant to publish. a disinclination to involve the Students' Association in a suit for defamation of character led me, on expert legal advice, to delay publication of the article pending alterations and a more thorough examination of the facts.
(3) It would be unlikely that I would expect to draw any con-siderable support from left-wing groupings in an election when though obviously to the left of the Party I hold office as President of the National Club (especially as it has for some time been well known that an active member of the Labour Club is a candidate for the Presidency of the Students' Association) I no of course no longer a candidate.
Any specificity Mr Mitchell has achieved in his letter thus appears somewhat less than accurate
I confirm his resignation with regret: I found his writing entertaining.—ed]