Coverage decisions require a delicate balance at The Lamron; every year we seek to explore an appropriate mix of broad issues and those that relate more closely to the Geneseo student. The problem starts with a question that we must ask ourselves: What does it mean to be Geneseo's student newspaper since 1922?
Sometimes stories and ideas for articles fall right into our laps. Take these hypothetical situations: Starbucks is opening in the College Union; SUNY's budget is deadlocked; a national political figure has made racist comments; Lady Gaga released a new album; Japanese Culture Club is putting on its annual dinner; The Ice Knights are 4-0 on the season so far. The question of coverage in these cases seems easy. We could slap any of those articles across the front page of a section without a second thought. But it's not that simple.
Obviously, the sports section is responsible for reporting the scores of our varsity athletic teams and the Knights' Life section is nominally obligated to cover events like the cultural dinners.
News, arts & entertainment and opinion each cater to a different set of expectations, though. The news section could, in theory, be covering national, regional and local issues in addition to the happenings at our college. Arts & entertainment faces an analogous balancing act when it comes to deciding between reviewing events on campus and global entertainment releases. The opinion section kind of gets to decide for itself since writers have a lot of flexibility, but we can deliver a broad range of subject matter in that area too.
In each of these sections, though, the issue of space begs a new question. When there isn't enough space to cover every possibility, what gets cut? Standard 20-page tabloid-size Lamrons cannot hold all the news that fits, so what is the news that's fit?
Our sports section currently dedicates one column, the "Out of Bounds," to national sports. It's football season - what teams are our picks? If we wanted to include this or other national or even regional sports coverage, we would have to sacrifice pages of content that we currently dedicate to the athletes at our school.
Not to mention our serious lack of resources regarding coverage of large-scale issues. We can't secure interviews with the governor and certainly can't attend press conferences at the White House, so if we wish to cover issues that require comments from high-profile individuals, we are forced to summarize other articles or visit press releases that lack the real-time quality that reporting on the scene demands.
What is important, I think, is all in that tagline: The Lamron is Geneseo's student newspaper. Our decisions have to be guided by our audience: Geneseo's students and the rest of the campus community. If we choose to cover more national issues, we have to look at them through the lens of how they affect that audience. Often, some of the most interesting articles are those with a "student" perspective on a hot-button issue that affects a greater demographic.
This steering principle doesn't work every time. Sometimes we have to decide for ourselves whether certain topics merit our attention as a news source. But I am of the opinion that it can't hurt to ask: What do you think?