I recently received a letter telling me that the Western Carolinian is nowhere near the level it used to be. Imagine, someone writing a letter and addressing it to little old me to complain about the paper as a whole (and the food at the university, too!).
Well, I’m only the news editor, not the editor-in-chief, the position which we in the newspaper business think of when someone talks about the “editor” of a paper. Being the news editor, I am in charge of the news section. I assign stories to writers, they write them. I end up writing some too, we put it all together, and you have the news section of the paper.
In this paper, the news section is the first section you come to. It’s not features or sports, and if you complain to me about those sections, I will send you to the features editor or the sports editor. It’s really a neat sort of separation-of-powers thing. The editor-in-chief is the person responsible for the whole paper. He is normally the one you write to if you compose a letter to the editor (which by the way is called a letter, not an article. Articles are written by the staff of this paper).
The head of food services is the person to complain to if you have a problem with the food here. I don’t work for WCU Dining, I work for the Western Carolinian. If your biggest problem with this university is the food, that is pretty good. Heaven forbid that we come to this university and instead of having excellent food, they provide things for you to learn that will help you in the real world.
I work for this paper to gain experience for this real world that is out there waiting for all of us. If working for the paper was the only thing I did, I might have the time to find (or invent) wonderful Pulitzer Prize-winning articles about things that are happening on this campus. However, I have to go to class and study just like every other student here. In case you haven’t noticed, Cullowhee is not the excitement capital of the world, and it can be really hard to find things that are as newsworthy as some people would like. If you want exciting or inspiring, get a subscription to Newsweek or the New York Times. But if you want to know what is going on right here and right now, pick up a copy of the Carolinian. It’s free.
People who criticize rarely take the time to think about the situations of the people who perform the job which they are complaining about. Complain about the news section or the entire paper only when you know enough about what goes on to truly make a constructive suggestion. Take the time to choose story topics, supervise writers, deal with it when they tell you on deadline day that they can’t get the story in, write half the stories in the section because you don’t have enough dependable writers, help lay out the section, and THEN after you have poured out blood, sweat, and tears over it, come back to me and say it’s not good enough.
The Western Carolinian is the best that it has been in a number of years. It has more content, more types of articles, and gets more compliments than it has in the past. The editor-in-chief has been working here for a number of years, and he knows that it is better than it used to be. The key words in that last sentence are “has been working here.” If you have not been working here, you have no way of knowing how difficult it is to put something together every single week that students want to read, and then being told that you are doing a bad job of it when you do the best that you can do without completely losing it. So put up or shut up. Like I said, if you don’t know what you are talking about, I don’t want to talk to you.