Trying for Transparency: Changes Coming to the Opinion Section

There are a few changes coming to the Opinion Section over the next few weeks, and I want to keep you, the readers, as informed as possible. You’ll notice this week that we’re each writing under our own column signatures, and in an effort to be more transparent for our readers, we’ve also included brief biographies at the close of each of our columns. Historically, the best opinion columnists at the Exponent have also been catalysts for change — specifically, the improvement and betterment of the world around them. They dedicate as much time as they can to this job, all the while actually going out and finding things to care about and become involved in.

That’s just the type of person who takes the time to do this job — and thus, you can expect biases from us. Our biographies, included at the end of each column, will bring those biases to light and allow you, the reader, to understand the perspective that you’re reading.

As journalists, particularly opinion columnists, we’re charged with speaking out about issues on our campus that we feel should be brought to light. While technically a paid job, I hope for this to be much more than “just a job” for both my writers and our community. I strongly believe we have a responsibility to go out and find relatively inaccessible information, and present that information in a way that is both accessible and beneficial to our readers.

The Opinion Section provides us with a unique opportunity to present information within the newspaper. We’re not expected to be unbiased, but we’re also then accountable for our opinions. That’s where you, the readers, can help us do our jobs better. I ask our readers: don’t turn the page if you see a bio that you aren’t inclined to agree with. Instead, take that as an opportunity to read their arguments more thoroughly, and send in feedback on the points with which you disagree.

Please, if you take anything away from this long-winded explanation, take away the opportunity to interact with us. We welcome criticism, and can only do our jobs effectively when we’re serving a community that holds us accountable. For this reason, we’ve also included our contact information at the close of our columns. Let us know when we mess up, don’t do enough research or fail to consider all sides.

The Exponent is a unique publication in that we’re run by the students, for the students. We’re an independent organization and essentially don’t answer to anyone on campus except our readers. This is for a purpose — so that we’re also free to criticize our student government or our university when they misstep.

This also presents us with a massive challenge. We are learning on the job, doing our best to become journalists overnight with no prior professional training. We have a professional advisor and Publication Board to help guide us in this learning process, but the best way to learn is to make mistakes.

If we’re going to comment on the important stories, it’s going to be hard. The bottom line is that we’re proud of our university and value the opportunity to study here. As such, we want to do our best as student journalists to serve this community and make it the best it can be.