Dear Westfield High School,
I know with the recent surge in awareness of “fake news,” we’re often skeptical or even discouraging of journalism. I know I’m quick to question anything that comes from Fox News or the Huffington Post--or really, the majority of what I hear.
But I think that there are two parts to the problem at hand: people only believing “facts” that fall in line with their beliefs and journalists clouding facts with opinions. It’s really a two-way street.
And I want to emphasize that the media has two jobs, neither of which are often done correctly nowadays. One, to give you the facts. The news. What happened, from an unbiased point of view, with the sole purpose being to inform you, regardless of whether that event helps Donald Trump or the Democrats in the midterm elections. Truth is truth, regardless of whom it helps or hurts.
Now comes the controversial part: opinions. We all have them--at least, we all should have them (that’s my opinion). I’m very well aware that some of us are more outspoken than others, and I know perfectly well that sometimes we give our completely unwarranted opinion for all the class to hear, which annoys some and entertains others. But in my opinion, as long as you can back up your opinion with evidence, go for it. It’s your right to hold an opinion, but it’s also your duty to make sure it’s truly yours and that you know why you believe it. That means not just believing things because your parents, friends or teachers say it, but because you thought it through, weighed the outcomes and made an educated decision. Once you have it, it’s yours. You have the receipt, so you can change it whenever you want at no cost. And even better, you can go and write double AXES essay about it and prove to CollegeBoard what a scholar you are.
Well, no. You’re not going to do that in real life, probably ever. But you will have to defend your beliefs at some point, outside of school. And yes, Seminar can get intense, and debate will definitely rip your throat out, but both are really just simulations of what might happen later in life when you are asked to defend an opinion.
But I digress. What does any of this have to do with the media? Well, the media loves to blast opinions. And there’s nothing wrong with that, except for they tend to only blast their own opinions, rather than being reflective of opinions as a whole. It’s okay for them to publish opinions, but it should be supported and not be presented as a fact. It’s okay for them to publish a liberal leaning opinion, as long as the conservative opinion is represented, too--or vice versa.
So now we have a new addition to school media: the WHS Lantern. This staff has impressed me with their skills, which range from perfectly threaded news stories to beautifully articulated creative writing. They’re going to report school and community events as accurately as possible, but from certain perspectives. It won’t be biased, but it will be from a student point of view.
How can you have both? By having an author that understands the audience and an audience that understands the author.
They’re also going to write their opinions. These will be labeled as opinions, since it’s just their point of view, and they’re going to cover issues ranging from as near as the parking lot to as far as D.C. You might agree with it, you might not, or you might even just learn something new. But I hope that in the spirit of sharing opinions and the free-thinking principles of our country, we successfully express student opinions.
I’m not going to sit here and say I’m your voice, because I’m not. You’re your own voice, but we aim to publicize that and give it the credit it deserves.