Editors’ Blog – The Editorial Process
Another busy week for Palatinate. With our big Get Involved Meeting coming up, we’ve been annoying as many people as possible with invites to the facebook group. Additionally, some students have expressed their frustration over our front-page story, claiming it to contain ‘lies’ and ‘sensationalism.’
Despite the complaints and threats, we have now, hopefully, assuaged the anger surrounding the article.
Still, are you curious as to how the editing process works? Wondering whether the article did in fact contain nothing but ‘lies and sensationalism’? If you are, please do read on – you may learn a little bit about us that will help you understand what we do and how the occasional number might slip through our editorial safety net.
Complaints aren’t a bad thing. On the contrary, they’re helpful for us: the experience has made us better journalists, and we are determined to be better editors in the future. We have put a new vetting process in place for news articles, as we hope not to repeat this experience in the future.
That said, we would like to point out that we haven’t actually done anything wrong. Do any of you watch Stephen Colbert? If so, here’s ‘Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger.’
First, a ‘Wag of the Finger’ to our dear rivals The Bubble. Whilst the Durham One article amused and entertained us, unfortunately The Bubble article did nothing of the sort. It is not only petty but also unnecessary to publish personal letters addressed to a rival publication, whether or not you’re approached with them.
We have dealt with the matter personally, and we have resolved the issue.
An important part of our job as student editors is to maintain professionalism. We are still students, but we have high expectations of ourselves to keep up certain standards of etiquette. Believe it or not, we do not find it unreasonable to hold our rivals to the same high standards.
The Editing Process
We have been asked how the editing process works many times over the past week, so here it is, an inside look into how it all works.
Imagine a News Editor comes up with an idea for a story – perhaps an idea he has been approached with, or something that he has stumbled upon in his research.
He pitches his story to his deputies and perhaps his writers, one of whom volunteers to take on the story.
This writer then does his research, spending hours trawling through thousands of numbers in the dark depths of University and college websites.
He also appeals to the colleges to ask for information, many of whom do not reply. They are busy, after all, and often don’t have time to help us out with detailed statistics or commentary.
The writer then writes his story based on what statistics he could find, and submits it just in time to go in the paper before the deadline.
When going through the newspaper, we, the Editors, have eight hours on a Sunday to read every story and edit the graphic design of every page, making sure every word and line is perfectly in place, that the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.
In those eight hours, fact-checking every article would not only be humanly impossible, it would not be sensible. If we used our very few hours to research every single number printed in the newspaper, there wouldn’t be a newspaper.
It is for this reason that we must rely on the integrity of three things: the information the writer gathers, the writer who uses it, and the News Editor who edits the story.
With regards to the last issue’s front-page story, our intention was not to publish a list of statistics whose accuracy was questionable and relevance dubious.
Our intention was to point out a trend that has been emerging over the past two years in college elections. (Look out for a debate on the topic of participation in college elections in next edition’s Comment section.)
In any case, the trend we established was not wrong. True, the statistics we used could have been more relevant, and we could have chosen different numbers to represent the trend. (A ‘Tip of the Hat’ to those who saw fit to point this out to us.) But the conclusions we drew were correct.
Palatinate does not aim for sensationalism, and we most certainly do not intend to tell lies. We are not the kind of newspaper who wants a story at any cost, especially at the cost of the veracity of our information.
Though some of the statistics on the front page of the last edition were misleadingly quoted, misleading our audience was not and never has been our intention. For this unintentional misrepresentation, we have apologised to the appropriate people.
We also apologise to you, our readers, and ask that you try to understand, now that you know a little more about the process. We’re students, just like you, and we ask that you understand that, like you, we’re still learning.