As a reader, you might not always consider how you are in a symbiotic relationship with your college newspaper.
A lot of our work depends on you, our readers. It’s not always easy to be your source of campus news. How well we are able to reflect the campus culture and environment depends on how you interact with us, especially in regards to how you respond to interviews and questions.
We want to emphasize the importance of being receptive to the Trinitonian when we ask you questions and write stories that involve you. Offering a quote gives you the opportunity to explain yourself. It clears the air of rumors and confirms truth on paper. We never aim to make anyone look bad and go about our work in an honest, unbiased way. If we ask you to give a quote on something, it looks better for you, your team or your organization if you have something to say and not like you’re hiding from the media.
We are aware that we make mistakes and that we lose credibility and trust when that happens. Whether it’s spelling errors, misattributing quotes or something bigger, it harms our image and hurts our relationship with our readers. We are, however, making strides to improve our paper each year and have strengthened our credibility over the last few years. Our stories go through seven people’s eyes before being published online or in print. Stories are printed out several times and meticulously edited. Yes, some things manage to slip through the cracks, but we manage to catch so many more.
Aside from the little errors, we’ve faced a few bigger issues in the past years due to publishing content with unsubstantiated claims or misrepresenting events or policies. It can be easy to rush ahead and look for a scoop even if there may not be one there just because editors need to fill their pages. Nowadays, we’ll hold stories for weeks if we aren’t 100 percent sure that all the claims can be backed up. We like to say that anyone should be able to go in and do the reporting and get the same exact story.
We recently have begun strengthening our opinion section by ensuring all columns, especially those submitted to us from non-staff members, are entirely fact-based and well-researched. This is somewhat unprecedented at the Trinitonian, as in the past, we’ve shied away from thoroughly editing columns due to feeling like we’re interfering with the writer’s voice and style.
In our new policy, the executive editors and the opinion editor meet with the guest columnist if we notice a submitted column has any major factual errors, generalizations or claims made without backed-up research and evidence. We go through the piece line-by-line and explain what spots need to be reworked and why we wouldn’t publish it as-is. Aside from legal issues that would ensue — such as libel — we want to do our best to be honest and factual with our audience.
All of this is to say that we understand why you might have trust issues, but we are doing our best to accurately capture the essence of Trinity while we’re here. We believe that Campus Publications serve as historical records and that anyone perusing the archives should be able to read any article and understand what was happening that year at Trinity. And that starts with you and your willingness to join this relationship.