Hello everyone and happy new year (as in new school year, not “happy 2013,” because that’s jumping the gun a bit).
Welcome back to our thankfully still weird community, or if you’re either a first-year or, like myself two years ago, a transfer student, welcome to the river for the first time. Welcome back to the hot and sticky sauna that is our part-time home in southern Maryland, welcome to the campus that just lives for Halloween, and welcome to what could very well be our last semester on Earth, if the Mayans are right. In short, welcome.
This is my very first opinions piece as the editor-in-chief of The Point News (and technically, my very first article as the editor-in-chief) and that’s exactly what I’d like to address: opinions.
As the opinions section editor of a very opinionated staff, I am overjoyed each time we receive a student-submitted opinion because it means that our paper won’t be dominated by our very vocal writers. But it also pleases me because it’s so important to combat apathy. Every opinion is a valid opinion, and every time someone makes an effort to voice their opinion in a public forum is both a positive step for the activist, the cause, and the progression of humanity in general.
However, while every opinion is valid, not every opinion is a well-constructed, researched, debated, and thoughtful opinion which carefully considers as many relevant points of view as possible. Opinions can be based in empty rhetoric and unfounded faith, and even well-intentioned people can fall prey to misinformation and half-truths. Often, opinions can cause rancor and volatility among those on opposite sides of the issue.
Facebook is an easy example of this. Photographs with attention-grabbing captions that seem unbelievably shocking usually are. Statistics can and are twisted to prove points. The same exact internet which allows us to access hundreds of millions of invaluable raw facts is also the place where downright falsehoods thrive and supposed “friends” fight nasty-worded political battles.
Anonymous commenting can be even worse. If you visit our site, you’ll notice we don’t require anything but a name (for which “Anonymous,” “Student,” or “None of Your Damn Business” works) and an email address. We keep it that way because we want to make sure that anyone can add a constructive comment without pressure.
But anonymous commenting also frees people to say things they might not normally say if they were held responsible for it. It’s virtually untraceable to the common user and it’s easier to accuse someone of being fascist, communist, or stupid if your name isn’t attached to your comment. Fortunately, The Point News has relatively little name-calling; the vast majority of our comments are thoughtful and worthwhile.
Here’s what I’m trying to say: we adore it when we get unsolicited opinions pieces. We want so badly to publish what you have to say, as long as it’s researched, factual, and accurate. Nothing makes us happier than when we get comments on our articles because it demonstrates that our community is utilizing our newspaper as the public forum we intend and want it to be. Please, please use our newspaper as an outlet for you and your well-researched opinions, and please craft them with respect. Honestly, you’re better served when you present yourself peacefully and intellectually than when you attack with vitriol and hate.]
Finally, if you’d like to submit an opinion, please feel free to drop it off at our office or email either myself at firstname.lastname@example.org, my deputy editor at email@example.com, or my managing editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you think you’d be more fulfilled working on the newspaper, we’d love to see you at our meetings Mondays at 8 PM in the club room.
Thank you for reading my opinion, which I hope was both respectful and somewhat convincing, and again, welcome home.