Things To Act
Monday, March 08, 2004
DU and Newsnet--Who's Criticizing Who?
Along with a spam email last week, we get this story about a panel discussion/forum tomorrow about the DU. Aside from the fact that the organizers chose classtime rather than the standard Th 11 (when more people can actually make it), what can we learn about this exciting opportunity?

Well, results are mixed. First we have the idealistic student: "She said the purpose of the panel is to get feedback from students. They can share their concerns or give ideas they would like to see regarding the newspaper. "It's a way to ask if The Daily Universe is serving its readers and how they are covering important issues," Doria said."

Immediately after, we have the 'managing director-print NewsNet,' someone with 25 years of experience (if the DU is to be believed): ""[The purpose of the panel is for] better understanding by students of what it takes to put together The Daily Universe," Hicken said."

Am I the only one who noticed that these two quotes directly contradict each other?

But, in the spirit of the inquiry (and since I'll be in class during the event), here are a few suggestions:

*Try publishing the philosophy and organization of the newspaper where anyone who's curious can find it. Answer such questions as: Does the DU intend to focus on national, local, or campus news, or some combination, and how? Do regular news beats (such as City Council, university policies, state government, religious news, etc) actually get covered by someone who knows what he's doing? What does the paper consider 'news,' and how much official control of news content is there? Does the DU bring in money, barely break even, or serve as a deadweight loss (and why)? Which student positions are paid, and which are required for classes (and why)? Can non-journalism majors work on the DU without paying homage to the Communications Department (and why)? What is the corrections policy? Why is proofreading so difficult for DU staff? Why are there so many sports stories, and so few academic ones?

*Try putting all content online when the print edition hits the stands (rather than days later). Enabling comments on articles--particularly opinion articles--isn't out of the question either.

*Try cultivating a higher standard of opinion content. Instead of publishing fringe letters to the editor, try only publishing those that actually might provoke thought (whether for or against BYU's cultural grain). Instead of bad student-written editorials, why not have professors write columns, whether one-shot or periodic? Instead of the opinion page being ridiculed, focus on making it a place of intelligent dialog. As it is, students realize that if they write outrageous letters, they might get published, which just leads to the Police Beat principle.

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