I realized this week just how many misconceptions there are about The Threefold Advocate. I would like to take a moment to clear up a few things about what we do, how we do it and how you, the reader, can be involved.
First of all, the Threefold is a student newspaper that operates independently. This means the University allows us editorial control over what we publish. We are a real student paper allowed to have our own successes and failures, just as other University students have in their own fields of study. The main difference is a practicum which engages the public on a weekly basis.
As a student newspaper, people often think we are a public relations branch of the University. We are not. We report the news first and foremost, even if it isn’t pretty.
Our Op-Ed section, which you are currently looking at, is the only place in the paper where you will see opinion pieces. The rest of our paper is dedicated to news coverage. Are we perfect at this? No, we are a student paper and our small staff is still learning what it means to be journalists. All the same, our staff does not necessarily share the opinions published in this section.
The personal columns on these two pages represent only their writers’ opinons. When members of our staff want to share an opinion, they write their own personal column. When we as a staff want to express an opinion, we write the editorials seen in this section of the page.
I know there are more opinions out there than the ones we publish because I hear them every week when I walk through the Student Center and read them on social media. Often enough, the issues discussed are about what people have read in The Threefold. So, every week, we wait for responses – excited to see discussions take place.
But, every week, we receive little to no feedback. Occasionally the few columnists who do write in are ridiculed and chastised behind their backs when what they really desire is open, honest discourse.
If you think there is something we are not reporting that is important, tell us. If there is something we are reporting from only one angle, tell us. If you want to give your opinion about something we haven’t written about, you are more than welcome to do so. That is why the paper exists: for the readers to be heard.
We work hard to learn our craft and to make The Threefold Advocate something that represents and informs our readers. When readers go to social media to tear down columnists, grumble about the lack of reporting on their departments or say that we are only after controversy, the real purpose of this paper is lost. As a student newspaper, we must uphold our journalistic integrity, the right to free speech and the desire to bring truth.
I hope this column (not an article, not an editorial) helps you as a reader have a richer experience with our paper. Our staff doesn’t want The Threefold to be something you look at and put away. We want to foster conversation and share information. And we want you to help.
Sidey Van Wyk