Reporters can have their own opinion, if they keep professional


The war in Gaza keeps making headlines. Cursor reports on the protests on the TU/e campus. The news article about the open letter asking the Executive Board to take a stand provoked a critical reaction. How does Cursor maintain its neutral stance?

Last Friday, Cursor published an article about an open letter from TU/e students and employees. The letter asks the Executive Board to speak up against the 'ongoing genocide and decades-long occupation of Palestine'. People are asked to sign the open letter. It has now been signed over 900 times. Read the open letter here and the article Cursor wrote about it here.  

Cursor's news article shocked one of our columnists. “The article is a pure push of the letter, without critical analysis, without research/mentioning who is behind this, and without knowing how widely this manifesto is supported by the TU/e community,” he writes in an email to the editor, adding that only a small group of signatories are from TU/e. 

What also bothers this columnist is that several Cursor reporters signed the letter. “To me this does not seem correct for journalists. And certainly not if they write the article themselves and uncritically promote the letter,” he writes in his email, which is supported by two other columnists, according to other emails the editorial staff received.  

As editor-in-chief, I am ultimately responsible for everything Cursor publishes. Questions about our journalistic approach are always taken seriously, and I am happy to be accountable.

Two issues are important in this matter: 1) what do individual editors think about the war in Gaza? and 2) how do we deal with it as editorial staff of Cursor? 

To begin with the second question: Cursor is an independent journalistic medium and does not take position in social debates. “Reporters are prudent, critical, unbiased and fair,” states the policy plan I am working on for Cursor. The new editorial statute, which will soon come into effect, says: “Cursor is not a public relations vehicle for the university, just as it is not a promotional platform for any interest whatsoever.” 

I have read back the article on the open letter twice, but I honestly don't think it is an uncritical piece. It is neutrally worded. The terrible events in Gaza are bothering people, and an open letter about it is news. So Cursor has to report on that.  

Although Cursor is neutral when it comes to social and academic debate, we do stand for fundamental values with regard to the rule of law and academic freedom. Cursor is therefore against discrimination, against Islamophobia and against anti-Semitism. 

If the journalism of Cursor is neutral, why do reporters sign an open letter? That is a fair question. I have a nuanced answer to that.  

Journalists are people too, and people have their own opinions. Let me make a comparison with politics. Journalists are allowed to vote for the party they want, that goes without saying. That is a fundamental right. And as far as I am concerned, journalists are also allowed to be a member of a political party. But once they are in the newsroom, they are a journalist and nothing else; not a politician, not an advocate, not an activist.  

As long as a journalist's political affiliation does not affect the work, that is not a problem. But as soon as journalists actively and publicly campaign for their party, or run for city council or House of Representatives, then a problem arises. Because active campaigning does not go hand in hand with independent and neutral journalism.  

That's where the limit lies for me as editor-in-chief. So yes, journalists are allowed to have a political preference, but no, journalists can't actively go on stage with that.  

Along this line, I also judge the question of whether it is acceptable for reporters to sign an open letter. I believe that as a journalist you should be cautious and selective with public expressions of support, as this can conflict with your independence, but as editor-in-chief I would be wary of depriving colleagues of their right to social engagement. As far as I am concerned, signing is allowed; I see it as a passive act of solidarity.  

But it is essential that reporters maintain their professionalism while working for Cursor. That is what I keep in mind as editor-in-chief when managing Cursor. I repeat: “Cursor is not a promotional platform for any interest whatsoever”. 

I admit that it is difficult to be completely neutral, perhaps even impossible, because personal beliefs feed curiosity and that in turn has a guiding influence on editorial choices made by the editorial staff. This is why a diverse editorial team with different views is important. As editor-in-chief, I guard against the editorial team becoming an echo chamber of its own rightness.  

In addition to diversity in the editorial team, reader-consciousness is essential in maintaining neutrality. After all, what editors personally think about a particular issue is not important journalistically. Cursor is a neutral and independent medium that gives free rein to the opinions and academic analyses of scientists, researchers and students.  

For example, read a selection of responses to the open letter here. The TU/e community proves to harbor a variety of opinions on whether or not the Executive Board should take a stand on the war in Gaza. That's exactly the role Cursor should play: facilitating the debate and showing the diversity, allowing readers to form and sharpen their opinions. 

Comment on the neutrality of Cursor? Respond by sending an email: 


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