Dear Brown Daily Herald,
Breakups are hard. They’re messy, and they hurt, and I understand that sometimes the only thing that can keep you going is spite. You take that anger and you turn it into fuel. There’s no better way to get back at someone who hurt you than by going forward and flaunting all of your successes in their face.
You’re allowed to take time to heal, and I don’t want to invalidate your feelings. But it’s been a full two years. You’re not going to like what I have to say, but I’ll say it nevertheless: It’s time to let Blog go.
Let’s back up and take a look at Brown’s institutional memory. In October 2015, the Brown Daily Herald published two columns that were, for lack of a better term, incredibly racist and particularly insulting to indigenous Americans. Understandably, a lot of people were upset by the lack of oversight that allowed these pieces to get published. There were protests, including a march in support of Indigenous People’s Day that went right by The Herald’s office. Brown then renamed the holiday on Fall Weekend to Indigenous People’s Day. Eventually, criticism of the The Herald quieted down. But the emotional harm caused by the opinions pieces remained. You were not a popular publication that year (and quite frankly, you didn’t deserve to be). And although the pieces that caused the issue appeared in the paper proper, your other brands, post- and the BlogDailyHerald, were not unaffected due to their association with you.
On Feb. 9, 2016, a revolution occurred. Members of the BlogDailyHerald broke away and formed their own publication. The Blognonian makes no secret of the fact that it emerged from dissatisfied writers who felt that remaining with the BlogDailyHerald made it impossible for them to fully represent the student body across the spectrums of race, gender and class. Even today, the first sentence in their website’s “About Us” reads “The Blognonian is an independent student publication brought to you by the former staff of BlogDailyHerald.” Each year that sentence becomes less and less true, as those who once wrote for the BlogDailyHerald graduate and underclassmen who have no understanding of the schism take their place. Yet still it remains, a testament to its origins.
BlogDailyHerald kept chugging along despite the break. A cursory search of the website suggests that no one ever acknowledged the split. Except … it’s not chugging anymore. It’s sad. And it’s time to make your breakup complete by letting go of the artifacts to which you cling.
You haven’t posted any original content to your Facebook page since November. The last apparent update on your website is from Jan. 26, an analysis of “Ratty vs. V-Dub.” Even a statement as timeless as “Chicken Finger Friday for lyfe” can’t make up for the fact that it’s a month into the semester and there’s just been nothing. Blognonian has brought us Datamatch and student spotlights, and you stay frozen.
And if I’m being honest, there are other issues too. Your website offers a variety of headers to direct readers to categories like “Sports” and “Relationships.” But the only one with any content is “Arts & Culture.” Apparently in all of your existence, you’ve never covered “Campus Life.” Or you have, but your website hasn’t been maintained.
And then there’s your mascot. I don’t mean to be rude. Artistically, it’s well done. But it’s frightening. That bear’s sneer haunts me. I don’t feel that it’s about to inform me about campus goings-on in a friendly and upbeat way. I feel that I’m about to get mauled. In contrast, the Blognonian’s sun, with slightly glazed eyes and a lazy smile that make it look like the sort of thing that would unironically use the word “groovy,” feels much more reflective of the Brown community.
But more than anything, you can’t run from history. Blog’s continued existence is a reminder of an era when The Herald was practicing journalism irresponsibly. The refusal to acknowledge the writers who broke off to form a new platform that “better reflects (their) values” casts a pall over the content that The Herald comes up with. Maybe in a few years, students won’t know about any of this, but in the meantime, it’s hard to conceptualize BlogDailyHerald as anything but a holdover from a time when you did a poor job of owning up to your mistakes.
And, finally, let’s face it — Brown isn’t that big. Maybe we can accommodate a dozen different a cappella groups that all perform slightly different pieces. But can, or should, we have two blogs that both aim to capture student life in the exact same way? Isn’t there something to be said for unity, for admitting that the campus might be better off if we could get our funny, #relatable news from a single source? The sheer number of student publications at Brown can be overwhelming. Is there really a need to keep a redundant platform on life support?
Dear Brown Daily Herald, I wouldn’t be writing for you if I thought you were an irredeemable paper. But the events of two years ago are still remembered by roughly half the people on campus. There’s no shame in admitting that you had a good run, but it’s finished now. Especially if the alternative is letting Blog slowly decay, with no updates or improvements. Give it a good end, and be done with it.
Caroline Mulligan ’19 would like you to know that she is unaffiliated with the Blognonian and can be reached at email@example.com. Please send responses to this opinion to firstname.lastname@example.org and other op-eds to email@example.com.