The Daily Texan must focus on feedback and community

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Photo Credit: Haley Bell | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: Emily Caldwell is currently running to become the next editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan. For this column, she was asked to present her platform and vision for the Texan.

The University of Texas was established in 1883, and The Daily Texan followed 17 years later. Because of its history, size and accomplishments, the Texan is uniquely tasked with covering the UT community. Despite 120 years of practice, the Texan still struggles to represent UT in its entirety.

When a newspaper fails to incorporate and include the community in its production process, a critical problem arises, one that can’t be fixed with a platform point or one editor-in-chief. To help the Texan champion its role as the voice of the student body, the Texan must make itself more accessible to student feedback and input. As editor-in-chief, this will be my main priority. 

Increasing accessibility to the Texan means many different things. I see three solutions: 

 

1. The Texan must foster a more welcoming and encouraging community in its office for all students on staff. 

It’s no secret the Texan struggles with retention. It’s hard to keep students on staff, especially without financial compensation. I will encourage new staff members to apply for leadership positions by better supporting struggling issue staff, fostering meaningful relationships between management and entry-level staffers and facilitating communication between editors and content writers. This will ensure any problems are addressed early. By making management more approachable, I can make sure entry-level staff members feel more comfortable applying for management positions. I will also emphasize the importance of the work our staffers do by fighting for increased pay, as well as stressing the critical role each and every member of the Texan plays in our paper’s daily content production process. 

 

2. To show students their voices are heard at the Texan, I will incorporate student feedback and input into the opinion department’s content production process. 

The Texan’s editorial board is a powerful force on campus, capable of speaking directly to power and successfully advocating for large-scale improvements. As editor-in-chief, I will create a tip line for students, faculty and other members of the UT community to submit their feedback, comments and questions. Opening our platform to suggestions from readers will not only strengthen the Texan’s relationship with the UT community but will show students their input matters.

 

3. I will expand the Texan’s recruitment practices to reach more communities often underrepresented at the Texan. 

This is a crucial step toward engaging the entire UT community. Without a diversity of perspectives and voices on staff, the Texan can only produce fragmented coverage. A representative and inclusive college newsroom looks like its campus — right now, the Texan doesn’t look like UT. As editor-in-chief, I will consistently incorporate feedback from different organizations into our content, collaborate with marginalized groups to bring diverse perspectives to the Texan and make community-driven journalism our key focus. When we welcome students from different backgrounds to apply and stay on staff, we all benefit. Our content, staff demographics, engagement and representation, in every sense of the term, diversify when we reach out to underrepresented communities on campus. The responsibility to cultivate a representative and inclusive space should always rest on the organization itself, never on students looking for ways to join. If the Texan wants to employ a representative staff, we must fix the way we staff our newsroom. 

The Daily Texan can best serve the UT community by opening itself up to more student input. The Texan is the largest and most award-winning college newspaper in the country, yet we still have lots of work to do to better serve our most important group of readers — UT students. 

I want to hear from you! Please submit any questions, thoughts or suggestions you have for me through the following form: http://bit.ly/emilyforeditor.

Caldwell is a journalism and Latin American studies junior from College Station.