Occidental Students, Faculty and Staff,
According to President Donald J. Trump, we at the Occidental Weekly — as part of “the media” — are “the most dishonest human beings on earth,” conjuring up “total fiction.” Covering Donald Trump and his administration who consider the media “the opposing party” is uncharted territory. Many news publications across the country have recently published suggestions for how to be journalists within this political climate. The Atlantic tells us to Call out lies as lies, not “controversies.” Reuters’ Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler encourages us to do the same thing we have always done: “cover what matters.” Politico’s Jack Shafer calls us to gather “behind enemy lines.” Journalists feel like Lady Gaga jumping off the roof during her Superbowl halftime performance: up in the air, hoping there will be an audience when they land. We are grappling with the same questions here in the Newcomb Media Suite. All 60+ of us.
On election night, our advisor Barbara Thomas, staff writer Ann Garber and I stayed in the newsroom until 2 a.m. compiling reactions from the student body about the news that Trump had just become President elect.
Once we entered the media suite, it did not matter how we felt. We ditched our personal opinions and produced a print issue that came out the following morning. Was it perfect? No. The photo was too low resolution (sorry César) and we can never capture enough diversity of opinion but we got it done. We delivered, and we will keep delivering, even if we never find the answers to the questions our current political atmosphere raises.
This semester, we will continue to try to put our opinions aside and report honestly and dutifully on the going’s on about campus and in the larger world. At this particularly turbulent moment, we also hope to serve as a resource for all students, especially for those who feel insecure under a Trump presidency. Our first feature, written by Greg Feiner (junior), lays out resources for students concerned about issues of immigration, reproductive health or any other form of safety. Ultimately, the paper relies on you, your stories and your criticism. We need your participation, both to produce quality stories and so that we can continue to serve the Occidental community.
In a recent NYTimes interview, former president Barack Obama reflected on the importance of storytelling.
“When so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify — as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize — is more important than ever,” Obama said.
I plan to build upon the foundation that Wellesley Daniels, our previous Editor-in-Chief, so elegantly laid out last semester. I will lead collaboratively, dedicated to preserving and sharing your truths. We will not always get this right, but we have established a relationship with our community in which we expect you to hold us accountable when we mess up. This semester, we will be creating new platforms for your participation — a subscribe box on our website where you can sign up to receive our weekly newsletter, journalistic workshops that will be open to the entire student body, a more active social media feed and collaboration with other clubs on campus. We will be publishing more “breaking news.” We will also be playing with multimedia. Expect photo essays, video projects and a whole lot of graphics. We have incredible new staff members and a lot of excitement on our end. Looking forward to covering what matters.