Beat from the Editor's Seat: We answer only to ourselves

Our inboxes are spammed with press releases regarding everything from the fish industry in an obscure county of Florida to bands no one has ever heard of (and probably never wants to).

But underneath all of the junk mail, there are gems of relevant information and genuine suggestions from the student body and college community. The editorial board - each one of us who has one of these inboxes to check - is solely responsible for serving as the filter of this information. All kinds of ideas are tossed around in a variety of methods that extend beyond e-mail.

It has become somewhat apparent to me that not everyone is aware of how the content of our newspaper is generated; that is, originally, by Lamron staff, in almost every case. This means that yes, we receive story ideas and press information from a variety of outside sources, but we select the information we feel obligated and compelled to cover - that is not to say that we don't carefully consider the audience's preferences and expectations in these decisions. This also means that we are solely responsible for producing the original articles and text that you read in the paper. Some newspapers use syndicated material, and we have in the past, but for this year in particular the material you read has been written almost exclusively by undergraduate students.

There are exceptions, of course. This week, for example, the Knights' Life section features a letter from a committee working on the Sexual Assault Teach-in. This submission was considered by our staff and ultimately decided to be a significant and pertinent perspective to present in The Lamron. Because this piece is a submission, not a staff-written article, it is explicitly presented as such and, note, in our features section.

We aren't in the business of printing agendas, but we realize that individuals who approach us may have an agenda and tip us off to an issue. From there, we assign a staff writer to delve into that topic. We hope that we can fairly present all sides. Sometimes, those vocal parties who approach us with information from the start have more accessible, prominent points of view for writers to report on; it is still our goal to remain objective and holistic in our coverage. Because we cannot or have not always fully achieved that goal does not mean, though, that any slant or influence has been dictated to us.

In other words, we are editorially independent. We have a faculty adviser who serves as a consultant in any matter with which we choose to approach her, but by no means do faculty, staff, administration, student government or any outside party hand down or even directly influence the content and presentation of our paper. If our coverage ever comes across as biased - as it will in the opinion section, weekly - that is by sheer accident or by the choice of the undergraduates who comprise our staff.

This hopefully comes across as a subtle point of clarification, but it is also something for which I am personally very thankful. We depend on the Student Association for funding but our obligation to third parties ends there. We are free to function in the ways that we see fit. Obviously, we do not want to offend or step on anyone's toes, but if our journalistic consciences drive us in any way, we answer to no one but ourselves. This freedom in reporting is invaluable; we present information to the college community with only the restraint of our own judgment.