By: Katie Sanders, Editor in Chief
This article itself is the final item I am checking off my to-do list: write my closing statement as the 2016-2017 editor. I think back to last summer when I was scrambling to get as organized as I could before the semester started, but now I know that emotionally I was not prepared. As soon as the Old Gold and Black began publishing issues in the fall, the critiques came quick and they came fast. There were Facebook posts, letters to the editor galore and comments made to me personally all communicating that people didn’t like the school newspaper. Sometimes, the comments went beyond expressing a personal preference and instead painted student journalism at Wofford as a depraved entity that would be better off not existing. I consider myself a resilient person with confidence that is unfazed by others’ opinions, but those comments stung.
On one hand, I understood. On the other hand, I felt misunderstood. If OGB calls ourselves “the voice of the students,” then we must be, even for the students that don’t like us. But it is taxing for people to be so vehemently opposed to what you and your staff put an incredible amount of time into doing and creating. It was as if students, faculty and even alumni thought that when our writers sat down to type a story they did so with a secret plot to undermine someone or something. We are students who are passionate about writing and telling stories– that’s it.
As the academic year has progressed, I have come to realize this issue isn’t only about Wofford or only about our student newspaper. The distrust, fear and accusations against “the media” is a nationwide pandemic. I want to use my last few hundred words ever as a writer for the Old Gold and Black to advocate against this attitude.
Just like I have experienced over the past academic year at Wofford, it seems like Americans in general lash out at the media because of coverage of events or ideas they don’t like. A media outlet presenting ideas that you disagree with is not a reason to avoid interacting with said outlet. In fact, that is a reason you should follow it. Americans also revel in the fact that the major media outlets in the U.S. are biased to the political left or right. According to the rhetoric of some, we should throw our hands up and be done with the media. No! There are many reliable new sources out there with less of a political bend. They may not be as convenient as Fox or CNN, but they exist. If you are getting your news from an outlet that is notoriously biased, it’s because you are choosing to.
If the worry is that what you’re reading is too far to the left or too far to the right, why not read both and discern for yourself the happy medium? Personally, this is my tactic. I figure if I read the New York Times, slightly to the left, in addition to the Wall Street Journal, slightly to the right, I will have a pretty good idea about the reality of things. I will also be familiar enough with both sides of an issue to have an intelligent, adult conversation with people all over the political spectrum. My favorite professor at Wofford described this notion as, “being able to sit at the grown-up’s table.” Wofford, America, it’s time for us to graduate to the grown-up table.
Having worked in media for the last three years, although a small, small outlet, it pains me to see such hatred toward a field that is so important. We need the media. Without newspapers, news channels, online news sources, etc. we would not know what was happening in our country or our world. The media is an essential piece in the puzzle that is our country and our democracy. For this reason, I smiled through the hate mail. For this reason, I continued to stay awake into the early hours of the morning editing. For this reason, I gladly carried heavy stacks of newspapers from one end of campus to the other in all sorts of undesirable weather.
While some may disagree, I know that the Old Gold and Black has, and will continue, to shine with untarnished honor. As this academic year ends and I move on to the next season of life, perhaps leaving the field of journalism forever, I hand over the reins to next year’s Co-Editors in Chief, Kelsey Aylor ‘18 and Sheridan Kate Murray ’19, grateful for the time I’ve had to serve in this organization and expectant of its increasing success in the future.