Editor comments on purpose of student newspaper, opinion page

I have been the opinion editor of The Daily Campus for two years, which perhaps you have noticed – or maybe this is your first time picking up the paper. Either way, before I assumed this position I put some thought into what a student newspaper should be and what I should focus on covering during my time as Opinion editor.

The first and foremost focus would be on covering events relevant to campus – anyone can pick up a major paper with coverage of national events, but the campus newspaper should be focused on events around campus. This extends to the opinion page through discussion topics and issues relevant to SMU’s student body.

The second focus would be on tackling current events to engage in worthwhile discussions and hopefully to produce worthwhile content and foster important discussion.

All of this was with the hope that the opinion page would grow into a place of engagement, focusing on submitted articles. However, this did not happen exactly how I planned it.

Perhaps a good portion of this is my own fault – I could have been more active in seeking out articles and perhaps my choice of coverage was not as engaging or skillfully done as it could have been.

But some of the lack of engagement comes from the way our society has changed. There have been several instances where people have not wanted their name put on an article that they have written, and I am sure there are many more times where people have decided not to write something because they are afraid that they will be judged for what they say.

This is certainly a sad criticism of the state of free speech in our nation today, what the campus environment is like in society today and the state of free discussion – which I believe is largely nonexistent.

Those who are active tend to suffer from the polarization and niche audiences that social media and our culture create. Many skilled, active students on this campus are more qualified to do this job than I am, but they are involved in their respective political organizations or in writing articles for websites that their opinions more closely, rather than in an open campus forum.

While that is fine and perhaps more beneficial to them, it is sad that the most qualified people on this campus end up having discussions with people of similar opinions and engagements, rather than stepping out into an open campus environment.

Overall, I would say that journalism in general is at a crossroads. It has shifted over to reporting on social media and has had extreme difficulty in getting people to pay for coverage. I do not think that papers have handled the transition to digital and the modern age well, but social pressures exist as well that news organizations cannot control.

Whoever will fill this position will have their own corner of the journalism world to influence. I will return back to the engineering world, becoming a mere observer of journalism once again.

Hopefully the coverage I have presented has been enjoyable to any regular readers. If not, then I hope that the next editor has more success and that those reading this column will choose to engage in discussions on campus, consider submitting articles, and be an important part in civil life and discussion in America, which is in desperate need of active, reasonable people.

Tell us what you think.