BROOM: Comprehensive coverage
The Cavalier Daily has done a good job synchronizing news reporting and opinion content
The Cavalier Daily played to its strengths in the last couple of weeks. With Pride Week on Grounds the week before last, Take Back the Night week this past week and questions about the future of graduation ongoing, there were major stories that required coverage from multiple angles. For the most part, I thought the staff did a good job with all of them.
With the major construction work on the renovation of the Rotunda set to begin immediately following Final Exercises next month, the class of 2015 will have a different graduation process than graduating students have had for the past few decades. Exactly what that new process will look like is still in question.
Kaelyn Quinn’s cover story in the April 14 print edition on the three options the administration has presented to students laid those options out succinctly and described the broader context well. A few days later, three opinion columns each advocated for one of the three graduation options. While it would have been good to have those columns out a couple of days earlier (when the online survey went live for students to vote) they were informative and helpful. Aligning news coverage and opinion columns where appropriate remains a strength the Cavalier Daily staff should look to employ when possible.
For both Pride Week and Take Back the Night week The Cavalier Daily print editions had full-page cover stories. The April 17 edition for TBTN also had a lead editorial and an opinion column that expanded on some of the important issues TBTN week planned to address. I applaud The Cavalier Daily staff’s efforts to both inform via newswriting and advocate for student involvement and action via their Opinion pages. This brings me back to a question I’ve posed a few times this year: what is the purpose of The Cavalier Daily?
I wrote a few weeks ago that it is not the job of the newspaper to increase voter turnout or participation in student elections. I think that idea needs to be refined a bit. It is neither the job of the newswriting arm of the paper to increase voter turnout nor is it the job to increase participation in events like TBTN or Pride Week. Increasing civic participation might very well be the job that Opinion Columnists choose to take on. In that context, it makes sense to argue that readers should make themselves more aware, participate in more events and make the effort to vote, whether in an election or for which graduation option the class of 2015 should use.
This same question — what is the purpose of The Cavalier Daily — may well matter even more in the coming years. In the New York Times on April 13, Jennifer Conlin described how increasing numbers of local newspapers are scaling back their coverage or production. In their place, in many cases, college newspapers are filling in with local, non-school specific news coverage. While this shift creates exciting opportunities for many reporters at such college papers, it is complicated by the fact that many college papers are funded by and subject to oversight from their schools and the school administration. Newspapers like The Cavalier Daily that are completely independent from their school and are not subject to oversight by the administration can be vital, objective news sources in the changing media landscape, but the reporting will have to be consistently excellent and thorough.
Finally, the past few weeks I’ve noted pieces on the opinion pages published as, “Guest,” “Letter,” “Viewpoint” columns and “Opinion Columnist,” and in some cases none of the above, only a brief description of the writer. More specificity and consistency in how pieces are labeled and what those labels mean would help readers place them in context more effectively.
Christopher Broom is the Public Editor for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @CDpubliceditor.