i4: Letter from the Editor
As the anniversary of the Santa Monica College shooting hangs in the rear view mirror, it is impossible not to think about it in light of the shooting that happened at Oregon's Umpqua Community College. Being that I was there during the shooting in the SMC library, I can sympathize and imagine what those students had to go through.
In dark situations like these, where school shootings and mass murders have become the norm, it is easy to want to bury your head in the sand and proclaim ignorance to the situation. But I think if we are not being conscious of what is happening around the world, outside of our bubble, then we are only prolonging the education needed to assess each wrongdoing.
Could it be that we don't have proper mental health funding widespread in America? Are there deeper rooted issues that make it commonplace in our society for straight, white, cisgender males to go on killing sprees every time they get their feelings hurt by a woman? This is the critical dialogue that moves past the "head in sand" response and sparks attention on issues that are not going away anytime soon.
At the Corsair we really strive to educate on information that readers didn't know before. Objectivity, news value, and fairness are guidelines we abide by to maintain proper coverage in our print and online edition.
Every so often we receive misunderstandings in the form of complaints directed towards the Corsair. And while each staff member is taught to take nothing personally, it can be baffling to receive feedback that is so far off from what we were trying to accomplish.
Last week, I received an email from an English Professor on campus complaining about our use of photos in our coverage of the debate last week between SMC and the British National Team. In fact, they were "mystified by the large color photo of just one of the debaters that occupies almost the entire front page. There were... four quite intelligent debaters in the theatre who engaged in a stimulating discussion of an important issue. In fact one of them was a young woman."
Being that the debate was about gender equity, I guess some people would have seen it more fit to include photos of the women on the cover, or at least some variety in the two pictures we had to use.
The English Professor went on to say, "Given the subject of the debate and extensive discussion of many of the perceptions in society of women and men, the rationale to publish these photographs, to be charitable about it, is an example of sending mixed messages and is terribly ironic."
That professor is right, it is ironic. But before we give this accusation any light, we must first consider two things.
First, we must consider the environment of the newsroom- crazy, discombobulated at times, hectic, and yet it is still a learning environment. When you have about 6 photographers on staff covering about 10+ stories every week including online and print, the ratio is already off, leaving some unsatisfactory photos.
In fact, out of the few photos received, only two were captioned and one photo was sharp enough to be on the cover. Photo variety is very critical when receiving photos from photographers if they are to be publishable.
Secondly, the irony remains with the fact that we are talking about gender and automatically relating it to the woman. As far as I have gathered, gender is a very sensitive issue in which people identify with either a man or a woman, not to be confused with sexuality or physically being a "man" or a "woman."
I doubt anyone went around to ask each debater what gender pronoun they prefer, but it was definitely assumed by their physical appearance what they represented.
So while yes, Ms. Whalen was engaged in a large part of the debate, photo quality was not sacrificed to suit the subject.
What often happens in these cases is that people jump to conclusions first and ask questions later.
I'd like to remind the public that we are just doing our jobs and while we're certainly not the LA Times or the New York Times, we are student journalists preparing for actual jobs in the field and journalism is a field that is largely misunderstood.
While we as journalists have to always stay on our toes and wait for the crowds with pitchforks, we are just students, not racist, bigoted people trying to run a politically incorrect paper.