What it means to be a journalist
Being a reporter can be very polarizing. Facts and figures are the bread and butter and if a reporter gets even the slightest of facts wrong, he or she may be subjected to a world of backlash.
Opinion writing can be just as, if not more sensitive; especially at the publication of a community college. At times, you will be the voice of the students. Other times, you will find yourself siding with the administration on issues where you feel students are at fault.
On a week to week basis, a writer must be able to choose an argument to write about and decide which side he or she migrates toward.
Throughout this semester I, as well as the writers who contribute to my section, have received a heavy set of criticism from the student government, the students themselves, and a surprisingly large amount of hostility from certain faculty.
And while for some, the criticisms may seem overwhelming, it is my job, and any other writer's job, to embrace the backlash, as if it were more of a friend than a foe.
A college publication's job is to produce stories newsworthy and compelling enough for students of the school to want to read. Of course, each student was raised with a certain set of beliefs and principles, so it is to be expected that not every student will agree with each other or the writers producing the content.
But a writer's job, despite what many may wish or think, is not to be a cheerleading section. It is not to paint people in a good light or a bad light. A writer's job is not to set his or her sights on a bias and run with it. Any writer who does, is not being true to him or herself and is not being true to journalism.
I, as an opinion editor, can praise Santa Monica College on it's clubs and resources provided to students looking achieve their lifelong goals, but I can just as easily condemn the college for it's dismissal of music life on the quad.
A writer does not, and should not, have loyalty to anyone or anything but his or her own work. At any given moment, I have it in my right to change or modify my opinion on any topic. As a reporter, my duty is to report facts, but as an opinion writer, my only obligation is honesty; to myself and to those who read the news.
Growing up with a bit of an ego, I understand the value in a good reputation. But I have worked very hard to maintain my reputation, though not being immune to mistakes along the way.
We all make mistakes, but it is our responsibility to learn from those mistakes as well as to be aware of those who will shine a light on them.
In truth, my job is to shine that light. On the good things and the bad. I am on no one's side. I am simply a voice, speaking out on the things that surround me. I am a writer.