What is a college newspaper's editorial range?

The editorial section of a college newspaper is often where the staff gets to give either their own or the popular opinion on recent news. At the same time, it serves as a paper bulletin board, where the staff and members of the university community ca write about any topic that they want to express an opinion on.

So the question is, how do you separate the reporter from the editorial writer from the columnist. The level of opinion in editorials must be balanced with a level of research and fact. This has been somewhat pushed to the side in many college newspapers and replaced by journals, observational pieces and columns on the integrity level favored by Matt Drudge. This type of writing in a section devoted to the insight of the staff brings down the entire paper.

The problem that allows this to continue and makes it difficult to correct is the fact that the college newspaper does serve as the voice of the students, not just as a journalistic tool. I think the solution lies in the staff writers who fill much of the editorial space. Focusing on news stories instead of taking the easy path of opinion pieces, the writer can help give the articles more of a voice in the paper, so they aren't overpowered by the pages of arguments on classes and parking and spending money on sports. While there is a time and a place for these ideas, looking at them in a news article, full of facts and quotes gives them a better impact.

Another reason for these editorial problems is the confusion between letters and editorials. Letters to the editor are complaints, corrections, interjections and student opinion. Editorials are public stances on a topic baced up by solid evidence and tempered by opinion. There seems to be an indentity crisis in this area, and because of this, many pieces that seem to be lengthy letters to the editor run as editorials and drag the rest of the editorials down.

Should a college newspaper have a political stance?

The other ethical problem in college newspaper editorials is the area of political stance. In a private professsional paper, the paper's editorial stance is the view of the editorial staff and the publisher. It is nearly nearly impossible for this to be the case on a college newspaper.

The numerous parties involved, make it nearly impossible for a paper to have a stance on an issue without it being a problem. The editorial staff is bound to have an opinion but what about the thousands of students that are suppose to have a voice in that paper? How can you choose a stance based on a minute fraction of the school community. Then the concerns of public versus private get involved. If public, the taxpayers of the state soperating the university will no doubt have an interest in how their money is used to further political and social agendas. In private schools, the board of trustees will assuredly have an interest in the direction and stance of one of the binding parts of the college community. There is almost no way that a paper could summarize the feelings of the community in a stance on a political or social matter. It becomes a difficult exercise in trying to take advantage of a public forum.

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