The Duty of Student Journalism—Why Cover Change My Mind?

The last three paragraphs of this article were edited from their original state in order to use language that is more reflective of the staff’s opinion. We regret our error.

 

Passions arose when the Bulldog’s Opinion section editor, Lexi Toney, wrote about her experience interviewing YAF President Kyle Bott about hosting a school-approved table outside our commons that read: “Build the Wall: Change My Mind.” How is this acceptable? Has the school newspaper given a platform to a conservative position?

 

As an advocate for balanced news coverage, free speech and discussion between people who disagree with each other, a response felt warranted.

 

First off, these criticisms fall flat when you consider that the Bulldog hasn’t, as a paper, decided to give a platform to Bott to elevate his position. One of our editors interviewed Bott and wrote an opinion piece about it in which she fairly discusses their dialogue, and rightly so—it is often the controversial issues we avoid that most require our attention.

 

It is the responsibility of a newspaper to cover events and issues of all ideologies (the paper covered events held on campus by both the Democrat and Republican running for California’s 31st District, and interviewed them both). As a student-focused newspaper, we have the duty to cover important things that happen on campus.

 

With Bott’s table that invited others to discuss and the protesters that showed up to object, this was a worthy topic to write about. The Bulldog makes an effort to cover all expressions of the student body so that anyone, on campus or not, can stay informed. It is not the specific opinion of the expression that will decide if it’s covered. If Bott’s table constituted a racist or otherwise unacceptable position, it would be more important that we bring attention to it.

 

Following the Instagram post about the piece, some commenters expressed their dissatisfaction.

 

One wrote that “Bringing attention to this is building them a platform that no one asked for but hope you guys got the clicks you wanted I guess.”

 

To clarify, the University student-run newspaper is not getting paid per “click.” Our job is to report about campus news and culture to keep students and the surrounding community in touch.

 

This opinion article was intended to explore why Bott wants to talk to other students about his views. The article was not intended to build a platform for the conservative position.

 

Readers have every right to praise or criticize the border wall and our journalism, but we hope our readers also understand our responsibilities as student journalists. We can’t take sides by ignoring conservative causes. No matter the view being advanced, a newspaper should objectively present the facts or publish an individual’s perspective on them. It’s our job to bring attention to noteworthy events and expressions by the student body, and we found the tabeling, discussions and protests of this event worthy of our coverage.


News Section Editor and Writing Tutor in the Academic Success Center. Enjoys writing about politics, news and public safety.


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