OPINION

BROOM: A declaration of independence

The new Cavalier Daily public editor explains his role on the paper

Welcome to fall 2013 at the University of Virginia. You are reading the oldest daily newspaper in Charlottesville and a vital source of news and information not only for students, faculty and staff at the University, but also alumni, those interested in the University and people who live in and around Charlottesville.

This is a time of transition for The Cavalier Daily as it moves from a four-days-a-week print newspaper to a twice-a-week newsmagazine with a more robust website. In the age of Twitter, news moves more quickly than ever. Readers are looking for more and better information, and they want it faster. Waiting until the next morning to publish a story doesn’t make sense anymore. The Cavalier Daily is also unveiling a mobile app in the next week that will allow for readers to keep up to date but also put even more pressure on the CD staff to make sure they’re getting their stories right the first time as the editing process likely becomes much faster.

The combination of longer time to print with the immediacy of a website, Twitter and an app will, hopefully, allow the staff of the paper to excel in multiple ways. In the best case, breaking news will have an immediate outlet on the digital platforms and long-form journalism will be highlighted in the newsmagazine. A danger is that the newsmagazine ends up being redundant or lost in the shuffle of the flurry that can be publishing digitally virtually 24 hours a day. Further, rapid digital publication could potentially compromise fact checking and careful sourcing if speed becomes paramount.

It is important that the staff, and especially the managing board, of The Cavalier Daily have a clear vision for how the various elements of the operation will work and fit together. Editor-in-Chief Kaz Komolafe, a fourth-year College student, has indicated that there will be more of an emphasis on feature writing and investigative reporting in the newsmagazine. This seems to me the right direction for The Cavalier Daily to go, adding to and expanding the kinds of writing and reporting that have served as the paper’s foundation for so many years.

The Cavalier Daily serves as a platform for opinion writers, a training ground for journalists and a unifying thread throughout the University community. The Cavalier Daily is student-run in its entirety. It receives no funding from the University or elsewhere. The operating budget is entirely raised through advertising. This is essential to maintaining the independence necessary for reporting news and expressing opinions about the University, especially when that reporting or those opinions may be negative in tone.

Likewise, I will remain independent from the rest of the paper. My role is to serve as a voice for the readers of this paper, website and increasingly, Twitter feed and other outlets. I am charged with publicly critiquing and commenting on the work presented in all of these means of publication. I will look for honesty, rigor and fairness in reporting and writing. I will look for both the good and the places where work falls short of the high standards The Cavalier Daily has set over the decades.

I have been in Charlottesville and affiliated with the University for decades myself. I first arrived in 1991 as an undergrad. After finishing my B.A., I hung around and eventually completed my master’s degree in Clinical Ethics. After a short stint in Seattle where I worked at the University of Washington, I returned to Charlottesville and began my Ph.D. work at the Education School. I took a break for a couple of years and worked at the University of California, San Francisco in their program in medical ethics before returning to complete my degree at Virginia. I have serious interests in cooking (which I pursue avidly) and my dogs, who are impossibly cute.

It is an exciting time to come on board as the CD’s public editor. I look forward to serving as the voice of the readers and I ask and encourage you to let me know what you think about how and what the paper is doing. I invite you to find me on Twitter CDpubliceditor or via email at publiceditorcavalierdaily.com.

Christopher Broom is The Cavalier Daily’s public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@cavalierdaily.com.


Published August 26, 2013 in FP test, Opinion







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