Editorial: In Defense of Op-Eds

By TCR Editorial Board

The nature of an Opinions and Editorials page seems to directly conflict with what we value in news: objectivity, uniformity, free of bias. We understand how this could be confusing. But simultaneously, newspapers are meant to reflect the ideas and concerns of their community. An opinions page reflects this in a way reporting cannot: through community members own voices. 

Recently, The College Reporter has received criticism for publishing unpopular opinions within our Op-Eds section. The purpose of an opinion section is being misunderstood here. Our Op-Eds section is not the news. It’s essential to remember that distinction. Opinion pieces are not the consensus of an editorial board of a publication, but instead should be a reflection of public discourse on campus. Editorials and Opinions are kept separate purposefully. Opinions represent members of the F&M community while Editorials are from our Editorial Board. 

The very purpose of an Op-Eds page is to spark controversy, to garner response and discussion.There are exceptions of course (violence, hate speech) and Op-Eds undergo the same editing process as all other pieces. But opinions make an argument in a way that TCR’s own reporting does not. You can disagree with that argument, but to suggest that we should refrain from publishing as a result of your disagreement goes directly against a newspaper’s duty to protect free speech. This does not mean that contributors are free from criticism (we should always be critical), but to quell someone’s speech on the notion that it is unpopular stifles intellectual discussion and creates a climate of intimidation which can lead to censorship.

The Op-Eds section allows readers to challenge their own views and strengthen their ability to articulate their own opinions in the process. Without competing ideas how will we ever discover our own? Without engaging with the ideas of others, we remain burrowed in the homogeneity of our own thoughts. Our goal is to provide a platform within the Op-Eds section that is not contingent on submissions aligning with the consensus on campus. 

If you find yourself engaging with an opinion piece, whether in agreement or disagreement, then we’re doing our job. If you find yourself disagreeing, then go write about it. 

Email reporter@fandm.edu with submissions, questions or concerns.

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