Editor's Note: After contacting Matt Stevens and the Daily Bruin, they have denied the comments made by Geragosian regarding the integrity of the article. So as of right now, it appears as if this incident is merely a "he said, she said" situation.
A few weeks ago, I was particularly critical of an editorial featured in the Daily Bruin, "Trojans Should be Ashamed of their Athletics," where Matt Stevens, the author of the piece, suggests that USC students, alumni, and everyday fans, should all share in a sense of humiliation regarding the dishonorable actions taken by the ‘SC athletic department. For reasons unknown, Stevens does his best to portray the Trojan Family as a group that is embarrassed by its affiliation with the university and its athletic department. To further advance his viewpoint, he uses the perspective of a USC student:
To get some perspective, I called a good high school friend of mine, a guy named Von Geragosian who is the most die-hard Trojan fan I know and goes to USC.
In talking to Geragosian, I wanted to get a sense of the deep shame he most certainly must feel as a student watching his athletic department make all these deeply unethical choices - staining his school.
The problem here lies in the fact that Geragosian, a 4th generation Trojan, was told by Stevens that he would not be quoted in the article, and further, he was also inaccurately portrayed as someone who felt guilty about his association with USC. Instead of simply quoting Geragosian, Stevens attempts to frame his comments in order to support his own argument. For example, Stevens remarks that Geragosian "must" feel some shame regarding his allegiance to the Trojans instead of letting Geragosian's comments speak for themselves:
Obviously UCLA showed its true colors by writing this article. When my high school friend Matt Stevens called me on the phone for a brief conversation of what I thought about USC athletics, he ensured me that he would never use my name in the article. That's strike 1 against UCLA. He also ensured me that he had no intention on bashing USC, but using facts about what "Trojans" thought about the direction of their athletic department. That's strike 2. And for strike 3, is his entire article. Stevens pathetically tries to find any way to bash USC athletics. Sure, he says that he was "out of ammo, defeated by calm logic". Just the fact that he feels the need to publish this garbage is pretty sad. What kind of title is that for an article..."Trojans should feel ashamed of their athletics". What a joke. This clearly shows the jealously UCLA has towards USC, trying to find anything negative to sooth the pain of this last decade.
So do I feel ashamed to be a Trojan...NOT AT ALL. Do I feel like I should apologize for our football team's dominance this last decade...NOPE. UCLA will always beUCLA. The "other" football team in Los Angeles.
Remember, you're a bruin for 4 years...You're a Trojan for life.
Whether you agree with Stevens's premise to begin with is entirely obsolete in this case. The problem is not with what Stevens said, but with the manner in which he constructed his argument. To quote a source without previously informing him that his comments will be featured is incredibly unethical in nearly all journalism circles. Essentially every college newspaper and journalism school in this country emphasize the importance of this very concept. You must inform your sources that they will be quoted. It's as simple as that.
Therefore, the fact that a leading sports columnist at one of the preeminent universities in the nation could get away with such a blatant, unethical "mishap" is a complete joke. Are there not "fact checkers" or an editorial board to review all submitted work? Do they not look over articles such as this one that is not only factually incorrect, but also unethically constructed? In a way, it's particularly intriguing that Stevens's failure to administer to this custom comes in an article in which he actually criticizes USC for unethical actions. Maybe, it's time to start looking in the mirror.
In the end, Stevens's behavior reflects badly upon a school like UCLA, which continues to boast a solid academic reputation. It takes away from all the positives that it contributes to the academic and journalistic communities by drawing attention in a negative light. It's silly to blatantly criticize the pedigree of a place like UCLA, which certainly deserves much of the respect it garners, but in terms of the Daily Bruin's decision to publish an article that was unprofessionally written, there is no doubt that the school is in the wrong and should most certainly issue some form of an apology to Geragosian and the rest of the Trojan Family.