It’s a good time to take a dim view of journalism.

Even as timeless criticisms persist (“These edits are horrible,” or “They can’t report anything without some slant”), they are couched in a new, more foreboding—even, at times, conspiratorial—framework: the incompetent media bias machine actively squelches the news that really matters.

Predictably, I hold a sunnier view.

This is, of course, not to suggest that I think journalists are paragons of neutrality and, subsequently, that they are right 100 percent of the time. Far from it. There are many criticisms with which I agree.

But some complaints—usually the ones cast most broadly—delegitimize an institution that performs so much public good, on net, that a world without it would almost certainly be less livable.

Ostensibly, the most common complaint is of bias. To paraphrase a CT colleague: Every news outlet has a bias, and they best acknowledge it instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. Under that interpretation, the complaint about bias is a flawed one. For all their complaints about bias, people turn to the publication that best matches their own subjectivity, suggesting that bias isn’t quite the bugaboo that people purport it to be.

Conflicts of interest, too, draw ire from leery readers. (We don’t like them, either.) Sometimes, however, these can be blown out of proportion. With a powerful enough microscope, anything can be perceived as a conflict.

News outlets, powerful and influential as they are, have an obligation to report things fairly, but sometimes impartiality becomes detachment. As with any individual or group, there come times when influence should be channeled into action. Typically, journalists point out injustice by shining light onto it, but sometimes that’s not enough. Newspapers accomplish this by taking a stand—“bias,” to some—in their editorial pages.

Besides, a news outlet will never (and could never) please everyone, and that pursuit—pandering to an audience—stands athwart the mission of any reputable journalism outfit. Editors work to satisfy the interests of their readers, which are distinctly different from readers’ preferences. These interests include their right to know the truth and the right to know about events that affect them and their community.

And what about those times when you think the editorial staff blundered and ran something they shouldn’t have? (The word “classless” is usually tossed around.)

There is a series of necessary value judgments in the inclusion of any story. Is this story important? Should this be run at the expense of something equally as important? Would this story hurt people unnecessarily? Sometimes stories do hurt people. Truth has a cost, and you can be reasonably sure that any editor worth their salt has a calculus to figure out what that cost is.

These types of decisions are seldom easy, and, inevitably, someone will be unhappy with the outcome.

But most complaints do stem from a place of concern. We—and any news outlet—do try to answer questions that are pitched to us.

Regardless of the efficacy of a complaint (even—especially—those from non-journalists), we will listen. It is the journalist’s place to educate, not to look down their nose at anyone who seeks answers. It would be a violation of our principles if we were not open and honest about our process, our values, and the editorial decisions that go into our paper and website.

Even the simplest concerns, like those of first-time writers, deserve to be addressed. Campus Times editors are happy to discuss edits as they were applied to any article, especially for those unfamiliar with the process. More often than not, disgust with the first round of edits—a make-or-break moment for some—stems from a misunderstanding about what we expect and what we do.

We know this because we’ve been there, too. I was disappointed with the edits on my first article, but, rereading the piece now, find myself unable to recall what I was disappointed with.

But let there be no mistake—criticism, especially criticism that we never hear about, is no substitute for change from within. Even if we disagree, you don’t solve a problem by ignoring it, or by boycotting the problem-maker.

In fact, these critical salvos suggest just the opposite. Start a dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Comment on our website. Send some emails. Let us talk to you. Just don’t let a conversation end.

And don’t think we wouldn’t pay attention. After all, that’s what a letter to the editor is for. Journalism is rooted in the idea of reporting truth, which necessarily involves keeping powerful institutions in check. What kind of journalists would we be if we quashed the very same spirit among our readers?



An open letter to all members of any university community

I strongly oppose the proposed divestment resolution. This resolution is nothing more than another ugly manifestation of antisemitism at the University.

Dinner for Peace was an unconventional way of protesting for Palestine

The dinner showcased aspects of Palestinian culture. It was a unique way of protesting against the genocide, against the Israeli occupation, against the university’s involvement with the genocide.

Gaza solidarity encampment: Live updates

The Campus Times is live tracking the Gaza solidarity encampment on Wilson Quad and the administrative response to it. Read our updates here.