Hermann makes headlines ... again
Editorial | Back-and-forth between AD and Star-Ledger petty, unprofessional
Rutgers’ latest press disaster is brought to you by the one and only Julie Hermann, who has been singlehandedly responsible for some of the worst coverage for our University since she became the new athletic director a year ago. Hermann was a guest lecturer at a Media Ethics and Law class a few weeks ago, where she felt it was appropriate to take the time to openly bash the Star-Ledger. Responding to a student’s comment that the newspaper almost went under a few months ago, she said, “That would be great. I’m going to do all I can to not give them a headline to keep them alive.”
It’s painfully ironic that those very words gave the Star-Ledger much more than just a headline.
One of the class’s enrollees was Simon Galperin, the managing editor of Muckgers, an online student-run publication. Galperin not only published an article on Hermann’s lecture, but provided a recording to nj.com. This prompted a scathing column in response by Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi. But instead of calling Hermann out on her unprofessionalism and making the point that she shouldn’t have started such a petty argument by lashing out at the media, Politi’s column takes Hermann’s words entirely too personally. It’s like some ridiculous playground fight, and the Star-Ledger isn’t letting Hermann play with them again until she says she’s sorry.
Politi says this issue is not about Hermann’s opinion of the Star-Ledger’s coverage and quality, but that “What matters is this: The Star-Ledger employs a lot of people. And if the Rutgers athletic director thinks it would be great if it closed down, then she relishes the idea of seeing those people lose their livelihood, their benefits and maybe more.”
Seriously? Sure, Hermann’s comments were out of line, especially given her position and the professional setting, but there’s no need for a major publication like the Star-Ledger to take it so personally. We understand that times have been hard for the newspaper, especially since it just had to lay off 167 of its staff members, but there are plenty of other valid points to call Hermann out on other than assuming she doesn’t care about their livelihood.
Hermann should’ve just kept this particular opinion to herself. It really is not that difficult to remain professional, especially when you’re actually being paid to do so. As athletic director, she is a major figurehead at Rutgers, and it’s her job to know how to conduct herself in public. Debating the ethics of whether or not Galperin was in the wrong is beside the point — as a public figure speaking in public setting, Hermann is fully responsible for her own words regardless of whether she’s on or off the record. But equally disappointing is that instead of taking it in stride, the Star-Ledger has only used the opportunity to paint themselves as a victim.
Hermann has already gotten herself involved in too many athletic scandals, which is inexcusable for someone responsible for representing Rutgers. Maybe she’s fed up with all the scrutiny, but that’s no excuse for this kind of unprofessionalism. We don’t really feel that it’s necessary for Hermann to apologize to the Star-Ledger for her comments — Hermann and the staff at the Star-Ledger are all adults. We’re hoping no one is seriously going to be offended about this for very long. But she does owe an apology to the Rutgers community for failing at her responsibility to push our University forward and distance herself from this kind of bad press, especially during our transition into the Big Ten. We’re really tired of administrative figures like Hermann constantly making the entire University look bad. If Hermann really feels so strongly about the Star-Ledger, that’s fine, but there was no excuse for her to have a public outburst about it and drag us all through the mud with her.