The View From Here

Deceitful misinformation. Authority figures scandalized. A public misled. Sounds like the credibility of the news media suffered another boot to the head.

But I’m not necessarily talking about a certain large network. I’m actually referring to your beloved student newspaper, the one and only Skyline View.

On Sept. 27, the “Voice of Skyline College” cracked like that of an adolescent male trying to figure out puberty. That week’s edition of the paper included an opinion piece that made some strongly-sorded yet weakly-researched statements. (For specifics, see the corrections on page 2 and Letters to the Editor.)

Prior to the publication of that issue, I had always wondered what it must be like to be that ubiquitous editor that all those people write all those letters to. During the week or so following publication, I began to find out. The cliché “the buck stops here” seems appropriate, except for the disappointing fact that there was no money coming to me whatsoever.

Truth be told, the design and look of The Skyline View was getting so much attention that content ultimately suffered, especially the opinion section, which went largely unchecked. But that’s OK, right? I mean, it’s an opinion and it doesn’t need editing, right? At least the newspaper looks good, right?

Picture this: Dan Rather speaks to the press, saying, “But the theme music for the Evening News is so good, can’t you just let this one go?”

Uh, lemme think. No.

Granted comparing The Skyline View to CBS or “60 Minutes” is not fair to the student newspaper. Spreading false information about the President of the United States is a bit more consequential than printing an uninformed opinion that could mislead a student about two to five percent of their English grade. But inaccuracy is still inaccuracy, and it’s rarely a good thing.

Some people like to call the news media the “fourth branch” of the federal government. It is a valid nickname. Journalists can influence public policy by telling the public what to think about and when to think about it. They can also provide checks and balances by doggedly chasing after the truth, even when it will cost someone.

But what about the “regular people,” the people reading the news over coffee or flipping channels during prime time? Without the public watching, the news media is pointless. Whether it is a bunch of bloggers exposing forged documents or community college staff members pointing out false information, it is still the duty of the public to seek out the truth.

Skyline College should be a place where learning is encouraged. The newspaper you hold in your hands exists to make that happen. The students whose writing appears on these pages are actively learning about the process that is journalism. In the non-cheesiest way possible, it is a labor of love. And we get CSU-transferrable units for doing it.

If any student newspaper was perfect, there would be no point in the writers and editors being students. This is a learning process, and I think I may have learned more about journalism in the past few weeks than I had ever wanted to know before.

I am thankful to those who care enough to correct and teach. With greater knowledge and discipline, we will need correction less in the future.

I can only hope that my fellow students at this institution of higher learning care enough to actively join in on that process and to seek truth and speak up when they feel misled as well.