Newsmakers: hold opinions, not agendas

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

With rampant claims of “fake news” or biased journalism, the editors of the Baylor Lariat hope we can remain credible in the eyes of our readers. We restrict our expression to the designated opinion section, which is the only place in the paper where we allow our personal perspectives to seep through.

Whistleblower Cary Poarch, working with Project Veritas, recently published undercover recordings taken at CNN which imply a newsroom culture oriented against President Donald Trump and the broader Republican party. The recordings revealed the CNN president’s insistence on regular coverage of the impeachment, even before the official court order was released, in efforts to initiate anti-Trump public discourse.

Journalism has the power of agenda setting, the process through which news organizations influence what people think and worry about.

The existence of editorials, collaborative opinion pieces written from the joined sentiment of seven Lariat editors, could seem to imply bias within our journalistic work. After all, we choose the four topics a week we want to make a stance on.

However, the stances we take as an editorial board are meant to help form common ground within the Baylor community, not encourage political homogeneity within our staff.

Every year, as we are forming our editorial board, we seek members from diverse ethnicities, religious beliefs, political leanings and even extracurricular involvement. If we are discussing a topic someone has either personal bias toward or is covering for news, they must abstain from the discussion.

Our editorial board meetings start with everyone sharing their own pitches for editorial topics. Each topic is researched and discussed. Based on the arguments made or evidence found, our opinions are often changed throughout the course of the meeting.

This thoughtful, democratic discourse in our weekly meetings brings deeper understanding of topics for ourselves, and it is our joy to share our insights with the Baylor community through our published editorials.

Some college newspapers rarely publish editorials or have ceased writing them altogether. For instance, Angelo State University’s The Ram Page most recently published an editorial in October 2016. This date indicates that no one currently on staff at The Ram Page has ever contributed to an editorial. Others, such as Southern Methodist University’s The Daily Campus, University of Texas’ The Daily Texan, Rice University’s The Rice Thresher post editorials periodically.

For us, as the Baylor Lariat, editorials mark a unique opportunity to break character as objective news reporters and express ourselves as passionate human beings hoping to connect with our audience. The opinion section, which clearly indicates itself as separate from every other section, is the one and only place in this newspaper we will not practice impartiality, and we hope that’s OK.