Editors’ Blog – Letters to the Editor
by Hannah Shaddock
It’s been a big week for Palatinate. First of all our ex-Indigo Editor and winner of the Guardian Student Critic of the Year Award Rachel Aroesti got published online on The Guardian website and in the printed edition of g2. Our pride knows no bounds, and you can rest assured we’ll be harping on about her achievements for an indefinite period.
But this blog isn’t somewhere for us to boast about our (many) successes, or tell you how great we are (unfortunately). Instead it’s somewhere to respond to the questions and comments we receive from our readers, whether nasty or nice. If you have an opinion on the way we do things, we’d like to hear it.
This week we’re starting with a bit of a special case. It’s not exactly a ‘Letter to the Editor’, but we thought we’d make an exception. We’re talking about the Durham One article which was written in response to the description – in Rachel’s article, mentioned above – of the online tabloid as a “Daily Mail/Nuts hybrid”.
We have to say we very much enjoyed the Durham One article, especially the suggestion that a similarly apt comparison for Palatinate was Soviet mouthpiece Pravda. Political. We also enjoyed being called a “high-brow broadsheet” (no less than six times, the sarcasm has been duly noted) by the author of the article, the enigmatic ‘The One’.
However, we don’t appreciate being called a “prolific whipping boy”, mainly because it doesn’t make much sense. After all those ‘high-brows’ we were going to recommend a thesaurus to ‘The One’, but it looks like a dictionary may come in handy too.
We also dispute the comment that we “force ourselves onto the student body with fortnight flooding of JCRs across the university”. The question of whether or not copies of Palatinate are “forced” on the student body is answered by the fact that they all disappear, usually within hours of being delivered, into student rooms and houses all over Durham.
Also, over 30,000 hits in February so far suggest that students do care what Palatinate has to say, and rely on us to provide the latest Durham and student news.
(We have, however, resigned ourselves to the fact that if you want to watch a video of a guy getting hit in the face by a selection of vegetables, Durham One will be your website of choice.)
We’d also like to point out that yes, Rachel has been a big part of Palatinate over the years, but she is no longer on the Ed Board and her piece was published by The Guardian, which – believe it or not – we have no links with.
The comment in the One article that “representatives of the high-brow broadsheet Palatinate have resorted to crass swipes in order to undermine their “biggest rival”” (random bolding and inaccurate quoting there, Rachel said “only major rival”, which is actually a compliment for The One, but let’s not be pedantic) is a bit of a stretch.
If someone represents us simply because they were once a member of Ed Board, then we’d have to say that Christian Seiersen, Editor-in-Chief of The One and a former Palatinate section Ed, is also a ‘representative’ of Palatinate, something I’m fairly sure neither he nor we would want to claim.
Finally, describing us an “ailing publication” is just plain wrong. Our online readership is increasing daily, and interest in the printed edition is a strong as ever. So thanks for your concern, ‘The One’, but we’re doing just fine.
In all sincerity, we’re grateful for the existence of Durham One. As part of an industry which is constantly being described as dying (if not already dead) we’re actually pretty lucky to have some real competition. The One has inspired us to step up our game, to improve our website and to make sure the content in the printed edition is even more relevant to Durham students.
Besides, it’s always good to have something to compare yourself to – especially when you benefit from the comparison. Call us old-fashioned, but we believe newspapers should contain fair and factual reporting, intelligent comment, and interesting cultural discussion. We’re confident that the majority of Durham students would agree.
Comments and corrections
We’ve received some constructive feedback on how we describe or advertise stories on the front page. One reader rightly pointed out that promising a review of “all aspects” of the PalatinAlps trip was a mistake; while we may have reviewed several aspects, it was by no means “all aspects”, and so for that we can only apologise and promise to take more care in future.
Comments on online articles have been (mostly) intelligent and thought-provoking, as usual, but we wanted to reply to some specific comments in a bit more detail.
Emily commented on this post, asking “Can you be more specific about who is trying to curtail your work, rather than using the very general term ‘Durham University’?”
My co-editor, who wrote the article, would be happy to respond to you personally – just drop us an e-mail. However, we see no value in publicly pointing fingers at specific staff members or departments who (usually inadvertently) make our lives more difficult. Most of the time they’re just trying to do their jobs, as we’re trying to do ours.
Fend commented on this post, one of the entries in the ‘Fresher’s Diary’ blog, saying “Journalism? Or a personal blog? Standards are slipping at Palatinate…”
Yes, yes, and we disagree. We don’t think that introducing blogs – an ever-growing part of the online output of newspapers – mean that “standards are slipping”. Quite the opposite, in fact. The blog does contain personal stories, but it’s also (we hope) an entertaining look at an issue many Freshers will face, and as such is journalism too, a very new and interesting kind.
Our Blogs section is new, so it’s a work in progress, and any feedback is appreciated. If you’d like to blog for us, contact our Blogs Editor Julie at email@example.com.
We also have one slight correction to make to the printed edition – in the article ‘The future of fiction’, on page three of indigo, it was stated that the St Aidan’s Creative Writing Teaching Fellowship was created especially for Fadia Faqir. This isn’t true, and we apologise for the error. While she was the first to hold the post, it was not created for her.