I was looking out the window. My eyes were dazzled by the cornucopia of brilliant reds, yellows and oranges closing out the mountain-capped horizon. The sun was setting. I was waiting for people to show up. They showed up, but I had a few minutes to reflect about my college career.
It was Friday evening and I was at the University Club upstairs in the Lory Student Center hob-nobbing with fellow student media folks and journalism teachers with whom I love and have a great deal of respect for. My eyes were heavy and misty.
My excitement for graduating in two weeks played second string to the hollow, empty feeling that my time at the Collegian and as a CSU student is all but over, and all the great people I have been fortunate to share three and half years with will soon disappear. Sure, intentions are always good and people always plan to stay in touch, but reality often evaporates good intentions.
Part of my reflection Friday was also about the readers of the Collegian. You guys are what make this job with doing. With no readers, a newspaper is only useful for lining the bottoms of pet cages.
I even want to thank those of you who send mean-spirited semi-anonymous letters – semi-anonymous in that the names are revealed, and the writers are unusually mean-spirited because they are not face to face with the hard working people of the Collegian.
However, I wanted to defend my beloved Collegian in my final column because working at a newspaper is like playing football, but we can only take the hits and never get to play offense.
But today I wanted to play a little quarterback and fire back at some unnecessarily mean letters.
Yes, we make them. All too frequently we have made them. But readers must understand, we are learning how to run a newspaper while taking on the pressures involved with being full-time students. We make mistakes, but we work very hard. And no mistake warrants some of the mean letters I have read. I urge you to be critical, but to call us “ignorant and incompetent” – to point out the nicer of some words used to describe the Collegian staff and their work – is, at least, unfair.
No, we don’t have to cover everything you may find important. We have been victim to budget cuts – which means we can’t cover a lot of stuff we normally would – and important things have happened this year that take precedence over some events. We use news values to determine coverage, and just because we don’t cover everything you want does not make us “a pathetic newspaper.”
We are not biased. We have covered everything as fair as possible. We treated both sides of the war fairly as we have all stories this year. Even on the opinion page, we are not biased. When I took my job as the opinion editor, I promised myself, my editors and all the readers I would hire an ideologically balanced staff and make sure no opinion is left out of campus dialogue. I – with the help of great columnists and a talented editorial staff – assembled a very balanced opinion page.
I can understand the above critiques of our newspaper, even if some of those letters went a little overboard. But personal attacks on individual writers are completely unnecessary. Our opinion writers are brave enough to publicly announce their analysis and opinions on important events and they are entitled to their opinions, even if it burns you up.
No one has the right to say a columnist “puts the ‘I’ in ignorant” because he or she disagrees with what a columnist said.
Some letter-writers need to show some class when responding to something they read in the Collegian. Letters are very important – and in my opinion one of the most essential parts of a newspaper – but I urge you all to attack the arguments, not the writers.
However, most of the letters have been well-thought out and well-written. It only takes a few bad apples … as the saying goes. The readers of the Collegian are probably the best in all the land. They are thoughtful. They are young and energetic. They care about the events that surround them and they want to be informed.
Thank you all for turning the pages of the Collegian. We all appreciate it. We make mistakes every now and then, but you always stick with us and look to us to provide the important information you require.
I have very proud to have served you as a reporter, a columnist and as an editor. I will miss you guys. I love you.