by Jack Rieger
This past weekend, Coffin & Keys published their first issue of the year. In case you haven’t heard of them, C&K is a popular opinion publication written by 10 anonymous students that represent most of the major organizations on campus. C&K is allegedly comprised of students from all major fraternities, sports teams, ASUN, etc. Their brand is along the lines of a gossip magazine, and I don’t necessarily mean that in a derogatory way.
The goal of C&K is to be totally honest and critical of organizations and people at the university, using their anonymity as a protective shield to help achieve this objective. They try to represent the honest opinion of students and will insult, criticize and/or ridicule any person or organization on campus that they feel deserves attention.
In the C&K issue published this weekend, I was a focal point of their disapproval. Their primary criticism surrounded a column I wrote two weeks ago, where I claimed that Nevada was better at tailgating than playing football while also placing the reader in the center of the student tailgate that took place before the game by colorfully and dramatically illustrating the scene. The chaotic sequence that I recalled included a U-Haul truck full of students drinking alcohol and a mob of students dodging incoming beer cans. C&K was upset primarily because they felt my exposure of the tailgate would lead to the university canceling future tailgates.
“Nearly everyone who was at the tailgate can attest to the fact that it was incredibly safe compared to the ones of the past,” wrote C&K. “Campus police even came through several times without incident. However, Dipshit of the Year Jack Rieger wrote that ‘the student tailgate section of the north end-zone parking lot looked like a scene from Project X,’ which has led university administration on a witch hunt to destroy the tailgate altogether. Did you think they wouldn’t read your writing?”
Along with criticizing my exposure of the tailgate, C&K was also critical of The Nevada Sagebrush’s negativity toward the football team this season.
“Unify the university instead of dividing it,” wrote C&K. “Be positive instead of negative. If y’all want to help this university, do not drag it down. When was the last time you wrote something positive about Nevada football? Your purpose should be to encourage students to attend games, not the opposite.”
Let me start by saying I respect C&K’s mission to be honest and critical as well as represent the unfiltered opinion of students. That is an incredibly important and valuable aspect of journalism. Universities, football teams, Greek organizations and journalists should be exposed and evaluated through an honest, transparent lens. But here’s what C&K has failed to notice: I’m accomplishing exactly what they are trying to do, except I sign my first and last name at the top of the column and therefore inherit the consequences that come with being critical and honest. I’m not hiding from anyone.
In the tailgating article I wrote two weeks ago, I also harshly criticized the Nevada football team for almost losing to an FCS opponent and head coach Brian Polian’s enraged sideline behavior. Because of that criticism, I met in person with Nevada’s athletic director, talked on the phone with Nevada Athletics’ public relations department and heard negative feedback from fellow students who didn’t appreciate my tailgate coverage. Individuals in C&K have never experienced having to take ownership of their opinion. They don’t have the courage to attach their name to their criticism of individuals and organizations.
I am perfectly fine with every ounce of backlash I’ve received in the past few weeks because I understand the value honesty provides for the reader. The majority of journalists do everything they can to portray the subject they cover in a positive light because they depend on that relationship for information and they want to keep their cushy job. I get paid $100 per week; I don’t have obligations to be positive toward Nevada Athletics, student conduct or coach Polian. The only obligation I have is to you, the reader. I will always be honest, and I will always try to entertain you. Furthermore, I am always willing to discuss my opinion with anyone who is interested or concerned, as I did with Athletic Director Doug Knuth.
So when C&K complains that my exposure of the tailgate was “misguided,” my response is I don’t really care. When I went to the game against Cal Poly, the tailgate was the thing that stuck in my head and I knew students would be interested in reading about it. When C&K complains about the Sagebrush’s negative coverage of the football team and claims that our purpose should be to “encourage students to attend the games,” my response is, that’s what the team’s public relations department is for. My only obligation is to be honest and entertain the reader, and I will do so without apologizing to the organizations or individuals offended by it.
The real reason C&K is upset with me is because I’m doing their job better and more frequently than they are, and I’m signing my name at the top of the page.
Jack Rieger is a finance and economics major at the University of Nevada. He can be followed on Twitter @JackRieger.