The Rider News response to Dell’Omo’s university-wide email
By Shaun Chornobroff and Amethyst Martinez
The worst thing a journalist or news organization can be called is inaccurate. A reporter’s goal is to deliver the truth, whether it’s what people want to hear or not.
When Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo sent out a university-wide email on Feb. 1 calling the headline of an article detailing his planned retirement at the end of the 2024-25 school year “inaccurate,” our initial reaction was confusion.
Dell’Omo’s email discredited the reporting in the piece and accused The Rider News of misconstruing a recorded interview conducted on Jan. 27 and failing to place his comments in context.
Upon reading his final paragraph, in which Dell’Omo wrote, “If and when I have retirement plans, please know that they will be announced formally and directly to the University community, not in the student newspaper,” a feeling of disappointment was felt throughout the newsroom. The conclusion of this email that was sent to thousands of people was perceived as a direct insult, not only to our student newspaper, but the student journalists who run it. Every week, The Rider News staff works tirelessly to bring objective news, sports, features, and opinion to the university community.
At The Rider News, we strive to uphold the same standard of professionalism that any other newspaper in the country would follow. Many of the student journalists on The Rider News editorial board have interned at professional journalism organizations, including executive editor, Shaun Chornobroff, and managing editor, Amethyst Martinez, the author of the original article that faced public criticism from the university president.
Chornobroff’s experience with the Asbury Park Press and Martinez’s with NJ.com and The Star Ledger have proven that the process of reporting remains the same, both at The Rider News and these professional publications, the standard being: seek the truth and report it.
At a university that heavily promotes engaged learning among its core missions, The Rider News accomplishes and puts these ideals into practice every single week for all of the student journalists involved.
Every reporter on the newspaper staff follows strict guidelines to keep our organization reputable, an essential part of working in this field.
But when the president of the university that we represent publicly questions our accuracy, it can be shocking and disheartening.
The Rider News strives to provide information from all sides to the Rider community so that readers may come to informed conclusions at their own discretion.
After reading the email, we knew we had to defend our journalism to the university community and provide the proof supporting the accuracy of our article and headline. Immediately, The Rider News decided to release the interview audio recording along with a transcript.
It fell on us as reporters to pull together a rational and appropriate response that accurately represented the newspaper as well as our own journalistic integrity.
Although Dell’Omo questioned the integrity of the reporting, the audio and the transcripts speak for themselves.
“I’m hoping as I go out, my last two and a half years, I guess that I have left, trying to get the university to a position where whoever follows me as president hopefully can have a little bit easier time doing it,” Dell’Omo said during his interview.
In the week since the transcript and audio were published, we have heard nothing further from Dell’Omo, nor have we received any apology for sending out a rash, university-wide email that had the potential to damage the reputation of student journalists and Rider’s award-winning newspaper.
Being questioned by the sources that we feature is part of being a journalist, and we wouldn’t be surprised to find out Dell’Omo has been unhappy about numerous articles covering his tenure as president of Rider University. However, the reaction to this specific article took not only The Rider News, but quite possibly the entire Rider community, by surprise.
As we’ve done for more than nine decades, The Rider News will continue to cover prevalent and pressing topics to the university and bring news to the Rider community objectively. Like all professional news organizations, we publish corrections or clarifications if we make an unfortunate mistake. We also stand together behind our work when it is unjustly discredited, as in this instance. Right or wrong, we will provide our audience with the evidence, the facts and, most importantly, the truth.