The Spinnaker received two letters to the editor from members of the Swoop Squad in response to “(S)igma (G)amma?” We’ve published both on page eight of our April 10 paper.
The reason for our unease is twofold: both letters suggest a misunderstanding of 1) how the Spinnaker feels about Greek Life, and 2) the paper’s process and priorities.
We occasionally use this space to share how the paper you’re reading gets put together. These letters have spurred us to do it again.
Angela Bruno’s letter begins by saying, “It’s no secret that the staff at the Spinnaker is not favorable to the Greek community.” And she’s right; we strive toward neutrality and objectivity in our news, not favoritism — though we do really like the Greek Life members who work at the Center for Student Media with us.
She highlights the demands of both Greek Life and Swoop Squad — and we can relate to many of them. We also have to speak to people we don’t know, maintain relationships with important offices on campus, and prove ourselves to secure positions on staff.
Bruno also mentions that it’s not her job to teach our writers responsible journalism. Right again. That’s not her job, it’s ours — which brings to light something significant, something that defines CSM: Everyone on our staff is still learning. That’s why we’re here.
Britt Stromquist wrote the second letter we received. In it, she claims that the Spinnaker wasted her boss’s time by including only one sentence about the Swoop Squad from a 15-minute interview.
For us, interviews are never a waste of time, even if none of their content makes it into the final story. They are necessary to contextualize the reporters’ understanding of the subjects they research. Besides, it’s better to hear unneeded information than to not do an interview and wonder if you’ve missed something.
Interviews are critical to what we do here, and the more accurate, thorough information we’re told, the better articles we can write. It would be terribly detrimental to the process for anyone to think giving the Spinnaker access to that information is at all a waste of time.
In fact, Stromquist mentions errors that appeared in the “(S)igma (G)amma?” article — sometimes errors come from our sources. More often, a reporter misinterprets what they’ve heard, and most painfully, some errors are edited in by copy editors trying to clarify or simplify. We do our best to own up to these mistakes in the corrections box each week.
For the newspaper, every story goes through a reporter, then an editor, then a copy editing process in which two staff members read through every word. And then somebody reads it again, just to find that one misspelling that may not even be there. Can you imagine how maddening it is for us that things still slip through?
Stromquist says we should be “motivating students to get involved by properly informing them,” which is, coincidentally, a great description of the overarching theme of the editorials published in the Spinnaker this year.
We do our best to give you timely, accurate information, but we know we’re not always right — so we hope by informing you about our process, you’ll be motivated to help us get better.