Beat from the Editor's Seat: A most difficult objective

It's hard to be objective. In particular, the goal of achieving objectivity in writing is actually near impossible to reach.

Naturally, our writing is laced with our own biases, the results of the framework in which we learn. Take any piece of writing and you can find out a little bit about the writer; he or she may have a tendency to use certain language; an inclination toward anecdotes; maybe the writer is a stickler for grammar or perhaps he or she prefers simple sentences over complex. The fact of the matter is that we each approach our use of language with different skills and a different way of thinking.

Moreover, when we write about particular issues or events, we enter the dialogue on our subjects with a specific realm of knowledge and understanding. This can be beneficial, but it can also be problematic.

Tension arises when considering the assignment of any type of article. For events and issues that happen on campus, how much prior knowledge should writers have? In a small college community, there is bound to be some overlap between writers and events. A writer with a lot of familiarity on a certain subject is prone to be more interested in and more likely to attempt to write about that subject.

For example, consider a student heavily involved in the School of the Arts. When he or she approaches an editor about writing an article on an upcoming production from that department, it is tempting but possibly dangerous to assign the article to that prospective writer. On one hand, he can offer a knowledgeable, well-versed perspective for the article, but on the other, he may have friends or teachers involved, or he may himself have a hand in the production.

I have come to regard this seeming conflict of interest as something that can actually be a positive aspect of The Lamron. It may not be ideal, but it is what it is.

Instead of turning away writers such as those in the preceding hypothetical situation, we have another option: to embrace the small community that Geneseo is known for, to acknowledge that these conflicts are going to happen and to be upfront with readers about the occasional lapse in pure objectivity.

Objectivity is the tenet that we, as journalists, must hold in the highest esteem. As a news publication, it is our duty to readers to provide content that is as unbiased and objective as possible. Readers must be able to decide for themselves what they think about the subjects that we cover. They should be able to enter the discourse on topics without having to distill preconceptions or biases.

Hopefully, if we can be more upfront about our own, sometimes unavoidable, inclinations, we can allow readers to draw conclusions for themselves.