Section: Opinion

Becca Foley: The former Collegian executive staff bids farewell

Becca Foley ’20: Editor-in-chief

I think it would be naive of me to ignore the events of last week in my final piece for this paper. I bid farewell to this campus amid a general hatred directed towards myself and the entirety of the Collegian. A large part of the campus has spent the week telling me my voice doesn’t matter, that I have no journalistic integrity and even that people like me are the reason nobody trusts the media.

So, in my final words to the campus, I want to emphasize one thing: My voice does matter. Your voice matters. The voices of the underrepresented matter. The voices of criminals matter. The voice of every single person on this campus matters.

The media is a space for free speech—but I say this with exceptions. Censorship is only permissible when there are legal matters involved, such as unconfirmed Title IX allegations or serious attacks and threats— facilitating a forum where these allegations are being thrown around can put the paper in legal jeopardy. That is where we must draw a line. The media is a space for free speech until we become toxic individuals who launch threats and hate towards one another.

I do feel it is important to hold myself and everyone else accountable for our actions. If I publish something factually incorrect in a news article, it is essential to take responsibility for that. I have struggled in the past to own up to my mistakes, but I recognize now that I have made plenty. Accountability is important in journalism, and I hope people continue to hold the media accountable for false things they publish as factually true.

What is not possible, however, is verifying facts within an opinion piece when they are solely theories or hearsay. Fact-checking in general is a good thing—but the opinions pieces are just that: opinions. They are expressing what the author believes to be the truth. This is an important distinction I have learned to make during my time as editor. Just because an opinion is different from my own does not mean it is not valid enough to be published. I hope this is something everyone can learn to do: listen to voices and perspectives that you don’t typically hear.

This week, I saw a darker side of the Kenyon community than I ever thought possible. And while it was a bad note on which to end my term as editor-in-chief, it left space for me to reflect on the importance of the media, especially right now. The media will not always be loved and supported, but its job will always be important.

This year, we brought the campus many stories, from controversial backpacks on Peirce lawn to the issues surrounding the Knox County Sheriff to the College’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. I felt proud to bring those stories to the community, especially during a time when we did not have to keep publishing a paper. More than ever, it was important for me to be there reporting on these issues. I felt like the Collegian mattered. Because it did.

Next time you read something in the media, remember that your voice matters. And that you, too, deserve a platform. You should always be given the right to express your thoughts. That is what free speech is about. That is what a newspaper is for. That is what the Collegian is for, and I hope it always will be.

 

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