We must be doing our job.
A campus newspaper is a forum for the free exchange of ideas. We have once again been able to realize the thrill of having the words of others grace our pages with passion and enthusiasm.
And we love it. We commend all of the professors and students who have written in to the Opinions section, adamant that their position is the right one, yet eager to open their arguments for debate. The Opinions section is a kind of freedom wall, and these people are using it to their advantage. Congratulations.
But the debate doesn’t begin, or even end, on the Opinions pages.
The Graphic’s duty as a paper is to cover the issues of importance to the university community. We pride ourselves on well-written, thoughtful and accurate stories in the entire publication. We also take pride in our journalistic integrity.
This process happens every week with considerable debate. We decide what is worth covering, the timeliness and news value of each event or piece of information, through healthy journalistic discourse.
Contributing to those weekly debates are diverse Graphic staff members, individuals of all ages, classes, religions, ethnicities and political philosophies. At any point in time, our key editors represent the full range of worldviews.
It is inevitable that we will be accused of failing to consider all sides of the story, and even dredging up issues that do not belong in a campus paper or that more closely reflect a right wing or left wing political ideology. The art of second-guessing the local paper is a time-honored and healthy tennant of journalism. We welcome it, and are always open to hear what the Pepperdine community has to say.
The latest incident involved a Seaver junior whose photos appeared in Playboy. In a letter to the editor this week, Liorah Stuchiner accuses the Graphic staff of not considering her feelings, and said that her posing was a private matter not suited for a university paper.
As a staff, however, we disagreed. The issue was not that the photos were of a student, but rather that they appeared in the college issue of Playboy and readily used the Pepperdine name. It was the use of the Pepperdine name, not the fact that she posed, that made the event especially newsworthy, as the use of the name reflects on all students, not just on Stuchiner.
Other current stories are sparking the same debate. The article documenting a change in procedure in the Health Center that prohibits them from distributing condoms and birth control pills this year has also been under fire for its timing. As a staff, however, we just found out about the new policy when reporting on talks about Christianity and sexuality by Malibu Church of Christ Minister Ken Durham. We had previously thought the policy was still under review.
If we did not know of this significant change in university policy, we have to assume that the student body did not either. It was news, even if it has been a few months since the actual policy change.
Controversy has also arisen over the publication of articles in response to a Pro/Con written by religion graduate student Jared Stewart and accounting professor Dr. Marilyn Misch debating the Bible’s teachings concerning homosexuality.
But that Pro/Con originated from a Convocation debating the same issue, which resulted in Stewart and Misch submitting letters to the editor, both of whom we as a staff asked to turn into Pro/Con articles. The two willingly agreed.
Misch’s article spurred mathematics professor Dr. Randall Maddox to write, and this week, economics professor Dr. Andrew Yuengert responds to both Maddox and Stewart.
While it seems that the Opinions pages, or any other pages, may tilt in favor of one side of an argument in any given issue, we know that balance is essential and encourage readers to look at the Graphic as a whole instead of taking one issue out of context.
We are excited that the Graphic has once again become a place where the Pepperdine community can engage in discussion about issues of interest to students, staff, faculty and administration, not to mention the Malibu community, alumni, friends and families who all read the Graphic.
This is the marketplace of ideas at its best. We have heard from students and professors that these articles have resulted in provocative class discussions. That is what a university is all about.
We encourage the Pepperdine community to keep the conversation alive with phone calls, e-mails, letters to the editor and articles. We are available and open to discussion at any time via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 310-506-4311, or in person in the journalism/speech trailer.
The university is founded on freedom of religion, and the Graphic is built on freedom of the press. Let’s keep the First Amendment alive through this free exchange of ideas. That, in fact, is what we’re all about.
March 21, 2002