Part One: Regarding the Board of Education
Some of you, as you read through this week’s edition, may acutely notice that there’s no article regarding last week’s Board of Education meeting and the decisions made regarding the Titan Store, Food Services and a proposed tuition increase.
That’s because two members of The Torch staff chose to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting as students and citizens–not as journalists–concerned about the effects of these proposed changes on their future education. As editor, I felt it would be improper to also report on the meeting because I could not guarantee an objective narrative on the events that occured.
While we pride ourselves on our journalism at The Torch, we’re also students and members of our campus community, and our voices are just as important as everyone else’s. I completely support my staff members’ decision to speak their mind to the Board, but I also recognize our responsibility as journalists to inform all of you about the happenings at Lane Community College.
To avoid the tricky rules surrounding conflicts of interest, we will host two videos on our website, lcctorch.com. One is unedited footage of the public gallery statements, where over 20 students and staff spoke to the Board about their concerns. The other will be edited to highlight certain statements and debates between Board members, though time constraints–we are still students after all–forced our team to leave the meeting before its conclusion. We believe that these videos are the most viewpoint-neutral way to present the events of the meeting and accurately capture the sentiment of the student body at Lane Community College.
I can objectively report this: The Board made no decision on a tuition increase, they voted “no” on outsourcing the Titan Store for one year, and Food Services will be “localsourced” or outsourced.
If you have thoughts or concerns about our journalistic integrity or the creative process we follow at The Torch, please feel free to contact me directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part Two: On student journalism
Now that the tricky ethics stuff is out of the way, I have some good news.
One of the few luxuries we allow ourselves at The Torch is a yearly winter trip to sunny Southern California for the Associated Collegiate Press Midwinter Conference. It wasn’t just an excuse to send a few staffers to a warm, dry climate in the middle of an Oregon winter, attending the conference gives us an opportunity to put our finest work on display for America to see.
It’s also chance to get a first-hand look at the future of speaking truth to power.
Student journalists gather every year to meet with other journalists, learn from professionals and professors, and exchange tall tales from their newsrooms. The conference also allows student newspapers to compete for the prestigious ACP Best in Show award, putting their finest writing, photography and design up for judgement by industry veterans.
I’m happy to report that Volume 54, Edition 9 of The Torch–which was remotely crafted from three different locations during that big, bad snowstorm–took home third place honors among two-year newspapers. The edition, which I already count among my proudest moments as editor of this newspaper, exemplified what we strive to achieve in our newsroom: great stories about community college life told by community college students.
We’re eager to prove ourselves. After growing up in a post-9/11, post-financial crisis world, we’re ready to cover America as we see it. This new crop of journalists is not focused merely on reporting news and features, but finding solutions to the world’s biggest problems.
If the people I met in La Jolla represent the whole of student journalists–and I believe they do–then we are on the cusp of a Golden Age of journalism. But our work is only just beginning.
The young journalists of today are facing challenges unlike anything that came before them, both on their campuses and–assuming they break into the industry and find work that pays them fairly–in their careers. Their morals and ethics will be called into question. They’ll face criticism, harassment and threats from anonymous online trolls who disagree with their work. They’ll be mocked by a sitting U.S. president and his confounding army of allies.
The powers that be know we’re coming–and they’re afraid of us.
Regardless of what happens in the near future, our award-winning staff here at The Torch will continue to bring our campus community the best journalism we can. While it’s always nice to have our hard work celebrated by others, we don’t do this for the awards. We’re here for the students of LCC, and we will always make their interests and their stories our priority.
We appreciate all the support you’ve given us, both this year and in years past. As we head into the warm embrace of spring, I hope that you’ll continue your support of our humble newspaper and the work our dedicated staff puts in week after week.