he thing about opinions is that people don’t need you as a newspaper to form them—they already have their own.
The other thing about opinions is that they never completely come from a 1,000-word news article. No one’s opinion is based solely on the bare-bones facts of what has happened. Our opinions are shaped by so many factors from our overall life experiences: from gender to socioeconomic status to race to sexual orientation to education to values to the places and countries we’re from to the groups with which we identify.
There is a deal of sorts any newspaper and its audience. We deliver the truth, as near as we can get. Readers, using the information we publish synthesize their own opinions about that truth.
Editorials are the opinions of the board. What makes our editorials different from your average Twitter take is that we do our best to inform ourselves and to contextualize our stance, which is more important than ever in 2019. Our editorials today are very different than they were even 10 years ago, both in form and function.
As student-journalists, it is our duty to the Boston College community to report objectively across campus. In doing this, we hear a lot of different points of view from students and faculty, on-campus organizations, and University administrators. Additionally, editors spend hours—to the tune of 30 hours a week—reporting on what matters to students. This provides editorial board members with a more comprehensive understanding of BC.
oday, in order to disseminate an opinion online, being well-informed is not always a prerequisite. All you need is a social media account and Wi-Fi.
Publishing anything, especially opinions, is much different than it was even 10 years ago—back then, if your opinion was to be considered by a large audience, you had to write for a larger, reputable publisher. No one was going to read some column randomly written by a person with limited credentials. Printing words and distributing them en masse is expensive (ask our business team). By and large, uninformed opinions could not be spread on a large scale because there was no other way to distribute your writing unless you had the requisite financial backing.
Enter social media.
Writing this column is quite odd because it feels as if I’m writing about a bygone era. While the above was true a decade ago, the media landscape has changed drastically in so few years. In 2019, anyone can share their own opinions on a mass-scale in fewer than 280 characters quite easily.
This new phenomenon is a double-edged sword. These opinions are not subject to editorial approval from reputable press, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Often, people point to this and say that the Internet has made steps toward democratizing discourse. It has—and this is good. Women, and people of color, for example, haven’t always had the opportunity to voice their opinions in such a capacity. Getting your opinion published required a degree of privilege that the vast majority of Americans did not have.
Now, anyone can share an opinion quite easily, which is simultaneously fascinating and scary. This is not a true democracy of ideas—such a system would imply a fairness about the Internet. Fairness and equality aren’t always one and the same. When truly anyone can share an opinion, that means that extremist views are now shared alongside mainstream ones. There isn’t always an easy way to tell which ones are based on fact and which ones are manipulative or misleading. Opinions that have been carefully researched sit right alongside ones that are angrily typed out during an 8 a.m. cheeseburger break.
Maybe that’s too abstract—we are a college paper. But what if it’s not? The Heights is here to keep the University accountable, foster student discourse, and train future journalists. Our editorials offer an informed opinion on BC issues, and, more importantly, it is our hope that our editorials can engage students in the BC community.
revious Heights editorials suggested the name of Gasson Hall. We called for what would later become UGBC. Following Pearl Harbor, we declared that BC students acknowledged and were ready to undertake necessary sacrifices.
I’ve been proud of the editorials we’ve produced throughout the past year. I’m proud of the ones previous opinions editors have published. It has nothing to do with them coinciding with my personal opinion—I’m proud of these editorials because they are an informed view for BC students to consider.
The way opinions are published by major media outlets will continue to change. I very much doubt that what is in print will matter as much as what is published online. However these opinions change, both from The Heights and other publications, vetted, factually-accurate opinions will be displayed on Facebook and Twitter right next to ones that are not. Citizens in a democracy will need to be able to tell the difference between those in order to know which ones they should seriously consider.
The Heights will continue to provide an informed opinion through some form of an editorial, regardless of what turn media takes next. Just two years ago, The Heights printed twice a week, and a digital-only publication could occur sooner than later—point being, media changes rapidly. One thing that will remain constant is our responsibility to publish an informed opinion and voice the organization’s beliefs to the BC community. It will be up to future Heights board members to decide how to weigh that opinion, both at BC and beyond.
Featured Image from Heights Archives