On the Record
The Eagle launches new column to offer transparency with AU community
It feels as though for the last several years that talk of trust — or distrust — in news media permeates political discussions, Twitter feeds and classroom discourse. The polling company Gallup recorded a steady decline in the American public’s trust in the media since the 1970s, reaching a low of 41 percent in 2019. This lack of trust is often coupled with criticism and negative feedback about the way news organizations and journalists do their jobs. As student journalists, we hear this as well.
Objection and backlash to decisions made by news organizations are often varied. Some of the criticism is undoubtedly warranted and necessary, while other commentary, I believe, stems from a lack of understanding of the reporting, editing and publishing processes. There is an overall need for greater transparency by the people producing news with the people consuming it. I think it is a failure of the reporters, editors and publishers involved when their audience is left in the dark about what happens behind the scenes.
As the Managing Editor of News for The Eagle, I felt that starting a news column about our editorial policies, daily publishing decisions and judgment calls in the newsroom could offer a new level of transparency and start a platform for dialogue about our role as AU’s daily student-run newspaper. Our plan is to publish a biweekly column about The Eagle’s role on this campus and why we do what we do.
We recognize the importance of the AU community and the impact our work can and does have on our audience. As stated in our code of ethics: “All staff members and contributors should respect our audience and those we write about. All staff members should consider how their work and its permanence may affect the subjects of their work, the community and, since the Internet knows no boundaries, the larger world.”
Historically, our coverage has failed to offer all communities on campus a voice. We acknowledge that The Eagle has made mistakes in the past. As a result, we’ve been denied access to sources and events, which indicates to us that we must do better. We hope to account for those mistakes and avoid the same missteps in the future.
It is important to us as a news organization that we not only abide by our own code of ethics, but that we make our practices known to our audience. I speak for the entire staff of The Eagle when I say it is a privilege to be able to cover our campus community. With the launch of this new column, I hope to grow this paper’s trust with our audience.
My goal for this new initiative is to explain what we do as a campus newspaper and why we do it. I think across the news industry, we often take our audience’s understanding of our job for granted. Speaking as student journalists, we think that as we are learning about our duties and responsibilities in our future field, our peers and audiences already have that set of knowledge.
Readers are still encouraged to submit letters to the editor and op-eds if they seek to address concerns or offer feedback about our coverage. We also ask that you fill out this survey if there is anything you would like to specifically see addressed in this column.