Editorials, Opinions

Beyond 140 characters

By
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On Jan. 20, 2017, President Donald Trump was sworn in, marking the first of the 1,462 days that the United States will be governed by a man who referred to journalists as being “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” This statement, while mild in comparison to the deplorable remarks Trump has made against immigrants, Muslims, women and many others, represents one of the primary challenges media organizations face today — distrust in news organizations as institutions.

Trump is not alone in this sentiment. A September 2016 Gallup poll showed that trust in mass media has hit a historic low. Only 32 percent of Americans surveyed in the poll indicated they have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in mass media.

As leaders of a staff of student editors and reporters — many of whom are working to become professional journalists or writers — this distrust can be disheartening. Our staff members spend many hours researching, interviewing, fact-checking and copy-editing to make sure we put out an informative paper five times per week. Yet many people, including Trump, turn away from engaging with news outlets and instead turn toward places like Twitter, where complex ideas must be condensed to 140 characters or fewer.

Acknowledging this distrust that exists, we hope to build your confidence in The Herald through the reporting we put forth. This year, our goals as a new editorial board are two-fold: First, challenge ourselves to do better as a platform for engagement. Second, challenge you, our readers and community, to help us do better.

We aim to publish nuanced and well-reported stories that feature a wide variety of voices, including historically marginalized voices that may be particularly vulnerable under the Trump administration. Our opinions section should represent the diverse range of opinions at Brown, and we affirm that challenging someone’s ideas does not necessitate attacking the person himself. We aim to uphold standards that require our writers to think beyond simple preconceptions.

We acknowledge the privilege that comes with serving as a platform for our community’s ideas and do not take this responsibility lightly. We will continue to put in those hours of research, transcribing, writing and editing every day. In an effort to be more transparent as an organization, we will also continue to outline our goals and perspectives through future editorials throughout this semester.

In parallel, we emphasize The Herald’s power to ignite conversations within the Brown community. The voices in our paper include students, administrators, alums and other community members who can and should communicate through The Herald.  Talk to our reporters, write us an op-ed or letter to the editor or join our staff if you’re a student — become a part of the conversation. Now, more than ever, no one can afford to be silent.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial board: Lauren Aratani ’18, Kate Talerico ’18, Matthew Brownsword ’18 and Rebecca Ellis ’18. Send comments to editorials@browndailyherald.com.

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