Photo by Ryan Brinkman | Photo Editing by Haley Hoidal
The world teems with a range of diverse opinions and points of view, and the Graphic’s newsroom is no exception.
The Graphic’s Perspectives section cultivates and publishes opinions from the Graphic staff, as well the Pepperdine community at large through guest contributors and Letters to the Editor. A junior Psychology major and Journalism minor, Anitiz Muonagolu has held the position of Perspectives Editor for the past two semesters after joining the Graphic his first year at Pepperdine as a staff writer.
As times change, so do news practices, and Muonagolu said he’s seen the Perspectives section grow and evolve over the course of his time at the Graphic.
What is the role of the Perspectives section at the Graphic?
Anitiz Muonagolu: “A lot of people don’t understand that Perspectives is a different type of beast than the other sections. The other sections — while they can do reviews and opinions and subjective pieces — a lot of their role is to report what’s going on. But for Perspectives, it is looking at issues that happen in our community and at the school and what those actually look like. Perspectives gives the news and the things we see in everyday life a little more context. So yes, we have no parking, but why is that a bad thing — or is that a good thing? Perspectives comes in to fill in the gaps that a news piece can’t do objectively, because then you’d be force-feeding your audience whatever you think it should be, and that’s not something you should do.”
How does the Perspectives section come up with its ideas?
AM: “The perspectives come from my writers. Everyone else can plan everything out far ahead, but I don’t always have that option. I go to my writers and say, ‘Hey, guys — so, crazy week, right? How’s life been? What’s going on? Did you see what’s happening in the news? What do you guys want to write about? What are you feeling and thinking?’ Magically, writers come to me. I have people from all over come to write: IP students and international students, people who are queer, people of color, women, men, people who are non-binary. They come and say, ‘Here’s what it’s like to be me in this circumstance,’ and then they write about it. There’s no big effort on my part, other than that I’m always searching for more people who have their own individual experiences — that can’t be replicated — to write for Perspectives.”
How do you choose which opinions to publish? Do you ever reject opinions?
AM: “I have never rejected an opinion. I never really pick, either, because I’ve never had an issue where I’ve had to tell someone no. There have been opinions where I don’t agree with everything they’ve said, but I know that’s not my job. When I’m editing, I have to check all my biases at the door. My job is to make sure that, one, you haven’t said anything that’s false, and two, you’re not lying to people. If you write a perspective that’s about aliens shooting the advisers, I’m going to say, ‘No, let’s not do that. We’re not here to do make-believe things.’ I do want people to know that, yes, you can do any opinion, but that doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want, because that’s also not helping people. When I edit, if there is something that is objectively false or spreads something that was taken out of context, I’m quick to address that. Also, we do work to be collaborative and open here in Perspectives, so any language that promotes harm, discrimination or hate speech will never be published, especially since I’m the editor. But so far, I’ve never had to deny a piece.”
Have there ever been any repercussions with the opinions you’ve shared?
AM: “Some of my writers do get hate mail. I encourage them to see it as a chance to grow and be open and to, honestly, be excited about it. It shows your opinion is making people think in a way they usually don’t like, and people need to be aware of that. It’s not like the reader is thinking in a way they don’t like because it’s wrong; it’s because it probably made sense and their preconceived bias doesn’t want them to accept it.”
How does the Perspectives section maintain transparency in its processes, and how does it help inform the Graphic’s audience, with respect to news literacy?
AM: “A lot of that has to do with how we structure Perspectives. Perspectives doesn’t use a lot of photos, because that’s what other sections use. We’re very solutions heavy, which means that you know it’s an opinion because we’re giving you something to plausibly do about it at the end of the article. We have the word ‘Opinion’ in the headlines on our online database, so people know this is not breaking news. We try to publish things openly, putting our contact information out there and publishing Letters to the Editor.”
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Email Alec Matulka: firstname.lastname@example.org