Staff editorials matter — My college paper just proved it

You don’t realize it when you first start writing for a newspaper (or magazine, or working in broadcast), but people, believe it or not, actually listen to what you’re saying. And that’s never been more evident than on the opinion/editorial page.

I have a soft spot for editorials (individual and staff) because of the opinion editor position being the first editor title I had in college. I was told the opinion editor spot is good for people who you want to be an editor, but you want to make sure they can handle it. There was (usually) only one page of layout, writing more opinion stories than you used to and compiling and editing everything for staff editorials. Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well, it is. But it’s also one of the most important positions on the paper, as far as I’m concerned. People like to read what other people think. People like to complain about what other people think. People like to praise people for having the same beliefs.

But what I like most about the editorial page is that it can elicit change. Did that happen while I was opinion editor? No, not really. I was able to expand the section to two-page spreads on occasion, which was great, but nothing I wrote and no staff editorials under my leadership really made a big difference.

But a recent one at my college paper did.

The staff wrote about how boarded up windows on buildings around campus, specifically Dunham Hall (the mass comm/theater building), are an eyesore and don’t accurately showcase the aesthetics of the school. They suggested, at the very least, painting the wooden boards black so they’re not such an obvious eyesore.

The Alestle’s current editor in chief posted on Facebook a couple days ago that those boards were recently painted black.

It’s just neat to me that what journalists say — especially on the college level — does matter and does make a difference. My only complaint is that it doesn’t happen more often.

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