Staff Editorial

Clarifying the Difference between “News” and “Opinion”

Emma Cook//The PHOENIX

Loyola students have fought for social justice and created more change at this university in the past two years than arguably ever before.

The students leading the charge for change should be commended for their commitment to their causes. However, that commitment should not cloud their judgement or understanding of what the media’s role is in covering their causes.

In the past two issues of The PHOENIX, we’ve run opinion pieces with opposite stances on the efficacy of recent protests on campus. Both pieces have received positive and negative responses.

Many students have taken the stances advocated in those pieces as the official opinion of The PHOENIX. For that reason, The PHOENIX Editorial Board feels the need to clarify what reporting goes into each section of the newspaper.

What is the News section?

The PHOENIX uses its News section to report the most pressing and current issues surrounding the Loyola, Rogers Park and Edgewater communities.

The purpose of the stories in the News section is to inform community members about what is going on around them. There is no opinion — neither the opinion of  The PHOENIX Editorial Board nor the opinion of contributors — in this section.

Without the News section, many people in the Loyola, Rogers Park and Edgewater communities would not be filled in on news that affects their daily lives.

What is the Opinion section?

The PHOENIX uses its Opinion section the way opinion sections have been used since the inception of newspapers.

Pieces in the Opinion section are written by contributors. People who contribute on a regular basis are called columnists. Opinion pieces were first called “opinions opposite the editorial page” — though they are now referred to as opinion editorials, or “op-eds” for short.

The opinions in op-eds are the opinions of the contributors and columnists, not The PHOENIX or its Editorial Board. These opinions are either sent to The PHOENIX or sought out, then screened and edited for publication, with opinions from all sides of a debate represented as often as possible.

The PHOENIX welcomes opinions from varying viewpoints, and our staff does its best to include a diversity of perspectives in our pages. If you feel a certain viewpoint is underrepresented, you are free to contact us at The PHOENIX does not claim any political affiliation, nor does it consider itself conservative or liberal. The PHOENIX staff members do not judge contributors based on their opinions, and we do not reject viewpoints that differ from our own.

The purpose of op-eds is to start a discussion. If only opinions from a select group of contributors — all with the same opinions — were published every week, a productive dialogue would not be created.

What is a Staff Editorial?

If readers would like to know The PHOENIX Editorial Board’s opinion on certain issues, there is plenty opportunity for that.

Every week, the Editorial Board gives its opinion on one — sometimes two — issues it deems important to the Loyola community. These opinion pieces are called “Staff Editorials” and are labeled as such in the newspaper. The names of every member of the Editorial Board are listed with each Staff Editorial.

These pieces — not op-eds — are what represent the majority opinion of  The PHOENIX Editorial Board.

Why does this matter?

The first and simplest reason all of this matters is to avoid having readers misrepresent op-eds as the opinion of  The PHOENIX. But if readers choose to misrepresent the Editorial Board’s opinion — whether intentionally or not — we can handle that.

The bigger problem is when important issues are brushed aside, and when one or two contributors’ individual opinions are used to distract from larger meaningful conversations about current events.

The PHOENIX Editorial Board urges readers to take the opinions in our Staff Editorials to heart and use them to create change on meaningful issues, whether it’s fighting racial or gender-based prejudice on campus and around the country, or fighting the historic gun violence in Chicago that continues to worsen.

But we also urge readers to thoughtfully consider the opinions of contributors and columnists, regardless of whether you agree with them or not. Or at the very least, know what you’re reading, who wrote it and whose views it represents. Otherwise, our community dialogue suffers.

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