HAVE YOU read The Cavalier Daily Online Edition recently? If so, perhaps you've seen its newest feature -- a detailed history and explanation of the University's honor system. Our Web site now boasts an excellent guide to the honor system complete with detailed explanations of its history, process and often-confusing terminology. The graphics, in particular, are excellent thanks to the hard work of Samir Roy. If you haven't seen this new online feature, check it out.
A need for guidelines
Recent reader response has made me recognize the need for clearer guidelines for letters to the editor. Let me explain: Jeffrey Eisenberg's column on Oregon's Measure 58 ("Adoption privacy protects mothers" (April 10) understandably incited some interesting reader responses. Since I think all good columns should encourage readers to think and interact, I was pleased with this result.
Of course, the limited space available in The Cavalier Daily requires limiting the number of letters to the editor that can be printed. This is a sad, but inevitable fact of print media. Some letters can be published, some cannot. What concerns me is the lack of clear guidelines explaining what the difference is between those letters that are published and those that don't make it to the opinion page.
Is it a matter of length or a matter of opinion? Do we try to present letters on a variety of topics or to fully cover the hotspots? Do we offer a countering viewpoint whenever one is received, or simply publish the best letter available on a given issue?
I wrote on this question last fall when the issue was on excerpting letters. In some cases, I willingly acknowledge space constraints require that we publish excerpts. So long as the opinion of the letter-writer remains clear, I see no problem with shortening a letter to have it published. However, the space constraints that force us to shorten letters published in the print version of The Cavalier Daily do not exist online. As a result, I believe unabridged versions of published letters should be made available online unless they fail to meet some pre-established guideline. This is, unfortunately, what we are missing presently.
If a reader copies a letter to me that they sent into the editor and it never appears in print, I must ask why. Since I know the letter was received the day the article in question was published, I know the issue isn't timing. If other letters on the same topic are published, then I know the problem wasn't the issue responded to. I also know that the integrity of the editors is such that they would never choose to publish only letters in support of a particular position so I am left assuming that the letter in question either failed to meet size constraints or is still on docket to be published next week. In either case, there is still no reason that I can think of that those letters to the editor that cannot be published in print are not made available online.
The Cavalier Daily is committed to being a paper that brings issues, news and opinions to the attention of the University. Fostering a sense of community requires that we engage in a dialogue with our readers that is public and aboveboard. Any confusion regarding guidelines for publication of letters to the editor thwarts our overall purpose and needs to be remedied at once.
Those troubling acronyms
Given the large number of student organization names expressed using acronyms, it's not surprising that it's often hard to tell exactly who is being referred to by the short groups of letters that pepper our headlines. Case in point: the front page story from April 13, sporting the catchy title "JRB issues Phi Delt FOA decision: Panel calls for UJC, fraternity members to determine different sanction." You almost need a key to know what is happening here.
Of course, usually acronyms or abbreviations are explained in the text of the article. Hence, we discover that "Phi Delt" is really the fraternity Phi Delta Theta, FOA means Fraternal Organization Agreement, and UJC refers to our esteemed University Judiciary Committee. Still, one question remains: What is the JRB?
To index or not to index
I received an interesting suggestion this week regarding an index of advertisers. Perhaps you've seen indices in your favorite magazines that give the location of each advertiser's space in the current issue. As the concerned reader suggested, publishing an index of advertisers for each issue would provide an "added value" for our advertisers (always important when you are an independent paper) and may well serve as a historical reference for those who look back at our current issues sometime in the future.
While I see the appeal of this idea, I also see something much less appealing -- a great deal of additional work for those laying out the paper. Usually, the actual stories and photos for the paper are laid out after the advertising, but the process of fitting in the day's stories with the day's ads is not quick or simple. I am not sure that the paper itself would benefit adequately from a daily advertising index to make additional work required by an index worthwhile. Still, I would be interested to hear what our readers and marketing folks think.
If you have suggestions, comments or questions, please send them in to