Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Letter: In defense of student journalists

Commenters should turn their thoughts into columns
Collegian File Photo

Last Wednesday, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian published a column entitled “We need more masculinity in our lives” – a conservative take on the new wave of criticism toward toxic masculinity. As a columnist and avid reader of the Collegian, I scrolled to the online comments after reading the article for myself, curious to see what other readers had to say. My findings surprisingly disappointed me; while there were plenty of commenters who expressed thoughtful and inquisitive doubts, there was a plethora of readers who instantly dismissed the conservative article. Many blamed the Collegian for publishing this writer’s opinion, others taking a harsh stance against the difference in opinion between this column and the majority of others published in the Collegian.

A semester of writing behind me, I am now used to the harsh criticism I often face in the comments section. Journalists in all capacities must understand that their writing will, and should, be challenged often. However, there is a clear difference between disagreeing with the content of an article and dismissing it because it differs from your own opinion. What surprised me the most in the comment section of this article was the fact that people were so quick to chastise the Collegian because it published a different viewpoint than the decided norm at the University of Massachusetts. While I personally disagree with the opinion in this particular column, I appreciate that the Collegian welcomes all opinions and grants a platform to any student who wishes to make their voice heard. As our campus is home to 21,969 undergraduate students, we should not expect everyone to hold the same views. We can try to educate or persuade one another, but dismissal is not an option. Diverse viewpoints pave the way for meaningful conversations that can build bridges, instead of dividing us farther apart.

A common misconception is that the opinions expressed in the Collegian’s weekly columns reflect those of the newspaper itself. On the contrary, columnist’s opinions are strictly their own. Each Wednesday we meet, pitch our ideas, offer feedback to one another and then write our articles by Sunday at noon. Anyone is free to write, and editors are there to support writers, offer constructive criticism and make sure all articles have been proofread and published on time. I see a lot of comments, particularly on my own articles, claiming that the Collegian is pushing the “liberal agenda.” I would like to reiterate that the Collegian has no agenda other than to grant student journalists a platform and cover happenings around our campus. If it seems that the number of conservative columns pale in comparison to the liberal-leaning ones, this merely reflects the makeup of those who have shown interest in writing for the newspaper.

After the time and research that goes into writing a column, it can be frustrating when commenters so narrow-mindedly dismiss our work. Sometimes I feel as though those commenting have not even read my article, but instead saw the liberal-leaning title and chose to write their own article in the comment section, solely based on their preconceived notions of whatever the topic may be. Other times, readers will comment purely to disagree, most likely to stir up controversy or for their own entertainment. On last week’s masculinity column, some commenters agreed with the conservative stance, but criticized the columnist for even addressing the topic in the first place, as if responding to a pertinent, current debate is a sign of weakness. When I write my own column, I hope for meaningful discussions that will allow for everyone’s opinions to be heard. I do not intend, or hope, for everyone to agree with me, but I do hope that readers will give my opinion thought before mindlessly dismissing it.

I am positive that someone down in the comments will find a way to disagree with what I have written. That is perfectly fine. But before you start furiously typing away on your keyboard, just know that the Collegian Op/Ed section meets at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday nights in the Collegian office and if you have any opinion at all, we would love to have you.

Emma Garber is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • S

    Stephanie HigginsFeb 13, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    This sounds like venting, which is fine. Write long enough and criticism starts looking more like a learning moment (or a display of dismissible fanatics) than an all-encompassing attack. What makes writing brave, as you’ve alluded to at the end of this with your invite, is being ready for public writing to enter public discourse.

  • N

    NITZAKHONFeb 13, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Well said.

    The problem is, as I see it, the Left – in particular – brooks no dissent.

    Family members shun family members, and people on the Left break ties far more readily than those on the Right. Friendships end, with the same trend.

    The Shunning