Concluding Thoughts and a Signal Critique


Many reading this inaugural issue of The Perspective may wonder: why start a publication at a time when it is clear that the newsprint business model needs refining, and sustaining a periodical is becoming exceedingly difficult? How will our organization spread our message and reach our audience with assumedly limited financial backing? What do our contributors want to write that can’t be written in The Signal—an established media outlet? Is there something wrong with The Signal?

Why start a publication? That question has been answered (read the ABOUT section). Our business model? We’re not worried about the fact our magazine might not lead to excessive profit margins for the simple reason that we aren’t pursuing financial gain—we’re attempting to have our contributors’ perspectives spread and read. We’ve been fortunate to have the support of Campus Progress, which has provided us with a grant that will allow us to print three issues this semester.

What are we writing that can’t be published in The Signal? Our perspective. The Signal staff never shies way from asking the college community to write for it. In every issue, it implores students to submit opinions; the problem is, The Signal reserves the right to edit opinion pieces for content. This unwarranted and repressive policy is “not negotiable,” according to the paper’s Editor-In-Chief, Megan DeMarco.

It is completely understandable for Signal editors to edit their own reporters’ writing for content—they should have the right to control their own message. And it’s absolutely reasonable for them to edit opinions for grammar—a standard of writing quality should be kept at any publication. But to change the content of an opinion piece submitted by a non-staff member? That’s absurd. Having this belief isn’t being paranoid, either. I’ve heard from numerous colleagues, who submitted opinion pieces to The Signal, that editors there have changed (and thereby distorted) the message they attempted to convey. In the future, I hope The Signal decides to amend this policy.

Is there anything else wrong with The Signal? You should read it, and decide for yourself; but to me, it’s simply too soft. And that doesn’t mean it needs to become sensationalist, but it does need to start showcasing more lively, vigorous, striking writing.

It feels at times as if Signal writers are muffled or tamed, shying away from controversy. Signal reporters do not always interview President Gitenstein face-to-face, either—according to the President’s office. They send the President questions via e-mail and she – with the help of her advisors – sends back answers to the questions she deems appropriate. That’s soft.

The College needs a hard-hitting newspaper that will demand to have some difficult questions answered.

Let’s ask about safety—why does ResLife operate its security desks from 8pm-2am instead of later hours when students are presumably more vulnerable? Let’s learn about the budget—we’re cutting salaries and furloughing faculty, so why do we keep building and re-building and spending $150,000 on a spring concert? Furthermore in the realm of asset allocation—with all the money we spend, why isn’t our library open 24/7? And why is our campus not completely wireless yet? What’s really discussed during closed-door sessions at the Board of Trustees’ “Sunshine Agenda” meetings?

I wish I had answers, and I challenge The Perspective, as well as The Signal, to report on these matters.

The ramifications of The Perspective joining The Signal as a fresh, new publication are invigorating. Healthy competition has always bred improvement in quality.

Hopefully soon enough in the future, the famed Cop Shop column will not be the only column read by the College community. ΨΔ

Comments

16 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. The real Matt Davis,

    I agree, The Signal is as soft as fresh snow.

  2. Noah,

    I like what you’re doing here Rodney.

  3. Eli,

    a wonderfully articulate piece of writing, job well done

  4. Arielle,

    I think many of us can sadly commiserate with Ron over the journalistic lacking that goes on here at TCNJ. I’m glad that someone stepped out of the room of apathy to articulate about what we’ve all been thinking.

    The Perspective is so much better than The Signal.

  5. Kristen Casabona,

    I just wanted to thank you for creating this publication, “The Perspective.” I read through the WHOLE thing, something I’ve honestly never done with our beloved Signal. I found the articles well-written and thought-provoking, and I could really hear your voices as I was reading. I’m so tired of the cut-and-dry articles found in “The Signal.” Sometimes they can have flavor, but most of the time I find myself not even wanting to read articles whose topics should be interesting.

    I also wanted to thank you for including the article “Concluding Thoughts and a Signal Critique” on the last page of your publication. I felt as if you were speaking directly to me, especially when you were referencing people’s opinion pieces that were edited in “The Signal.” You may remember that this happened to me regarding my parking letter to the editor that was edited and censored in the September 30th issue of “The Signal.” The following week they surprisingly published my angry response to their censorship–unedited might I add.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you when you say, “It’s completely understandable for Signal editors to edit their own reporter’s writing for content…But to change the content of an opinion piece submitted by a non-staff member? That’s absurd.”

    I also thought your “Retroperspective” section was ingenious. It’s interesting to hear about protests and events that went on, on our very own campus, many years ago. Events like this are part of our campus’s history and should be talked about, not filed away in archaic issues of “The Signal” to attract moths and rot.

    So once again, thank you for this new “perspective.”

  6. Alisha,

    I think if you are going to have this publication. Make sure everyones perspective is actually in the publication because so far I do not see that.

    • Anonymous,

      It was the first issue. Of course a lot of people aren’t going to be involved. Calm down.

      Plus, I don’t think they’re going for some artificial balance. Just an open dialogue. If people disagree, they can say so.

      Not to mention, they do have an entire column dedicated to a far right Republican.

    • The real Matt Davis,

      Alisha–
      Wouldn’t it be a perfect, utopian world if everyone was truly able to express their individual perspectives in such a media outlet?! However, this would be impossible, seeing that there is an abundance of opinions and too few pages in The Perspective to include them all; especially all in the first issue! Such a task would instantly prove to be impossible, as anyone can see.

      The Perspective does allow all those who want their opinions included–to submit them to be printed in future issues. So, contrary to your belief that it is The Perspective’s responsability to ensure all opinions are included, I feel that is it the individual who posseses the opinions’ responsibility to make sure their opinions are heard. And since The Perspective allows and encurages this, the only people at fault for the “lack of perspective” is those who fail to share their perspective. QED

  7. Melissa,

    The Signal has edited every shred of flavor out of my pieces. I can’t stand it.

  8. Salt,

    I agree with this piece whole heartedly as it poses a number of questions that have been more then left unanswered not only by “The Signal”, but by the College itself. I am pleased that there will finally be a publication on this campus that will have the courage to question our administration, inquire as to where our tuition is going, and why. Touche.

  9. Jane Doe,

    This article poses a lot of questions that surely go through the minds of many students at TCNJ. The problem is, it didn’t answer any of them.

    Why are staff members being furloughed while $150k is being used for the spring CUB concert? First of all, the College IS NOT furloughing TCNJ faculty and staff, it’s the doing of the State and the union that faculty and staff belong to. Our State is broke and all state workers are being punished with furloughs because of the lack of competency of your precious liberal leaders. Secondly, that $150k for the spring CUB concert would make up for less than a day’s pay for all of TCNJ’s faculty and staff being furloughed. That money comes out of the student activity fee anyway, which another article from this publication was just complaining about. Do you think students would rather donate that money to the faculty members? I doubt any of you are that generous. Besides, campus life has an importance too. That spring CUB concert has brought talent like Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and Ben Folds to TCNJ over the decades. Who is going to take that away from the students?

    Why isn’t the campus completely wireless? Go do some research and tell us all that. And please do find out what happens in those Sunshine Agenda meetings if everyone wants to know so badly. http://www.tcnj.edu/~trustees/agendas.html I bet they’re doing more for the college than you even realize. Those Trustees give millions to the school every year and find ways to raise millions more because the people you vote for to run this state keep cutting higher education funds.

    I suggest that you answer your own questions within your own publication, research the facts, and talk to people higher up than Larry from Eickhoff.

    • You must remember, Jane, that this was published in our inaugural issue. We are working on tackling every question posed in this piece.

      Our school has much more autonomy that one thinks. And $150K is $150K whether it’s a days salary or not. We’re currently working on a pretty comprehensive article that may answer some of your funding-related questions.

      Billy Joel, Bruce, even Ben Folds, are light years better than Cartel. Come on now.

      The Sunshine Agenda meetings all have closed doors sessions. What’s decided behind those doors is not disclosed to the public — not immediately, at least.

      Read our November issue. Instead of speaking with “Larry from Eickhoff,” we decided to speak to the Harold Eickhoff himself.

      Notwithstanding your comment’s belittling tone, I do appreciate your concern and hope you keep reading and providing helpful feedback.

      Thanks,
      Ron

  10. Jane Doe,

    Billy and Bruce were no-names back in the day when they were at TCNJ. Who says Cartel won’t be popular later? 😛 I apologize if my comment sounded belittling. I get angry when people so harshly criticize my alma mater with little to no to wrong facts to back up their claims. TCNJ has come a very long way over the years, especially thanks to your current president, who your staff members apparently wish to see ousted. You kids don’t know how good you have it.

    • The real Matt Davis,

      Do we not know how good we have it? I think most students (including Ron and myself) love it here at TCNJ and appretaite all that we DO have. That being said, I also feel that no matter how “good” anything in this world is, there is ALWAYS room for improvement-any thought otherwise is arrogant to say the least and will lead to ultimate failure. So, even though TCNJ is in fact great, us students doing nothing to improve it would be foolish.

  11. Glenn Eisenberg,

    Just as a clarification, the last line of the Retroperspective about busting out the casket was not meant to imply that we want to protest Gittenstein. I realize that was unclear. It was merely to suggest that we’d like to see the campus more active.

    I apologize for the misleading wording.

  12. Trey,

    Rod, you’re doing big things here and I respect the heck out of you. The Perspective is where it’s at.

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