At the heart of the conflict between various campus organizations and the Nexus is a lack of understanding about the ethics and goals of any credible newspaper. For a publication that calls itself a member of the free press, credibility means aiming for a stance free of bias. A newspaper cannot reliably predict — nor should it try to control — the interpretive slant of its readers.
Achieving credibility entails, essentially, that a newspaper have an open-door policy with regards to its content. News stories are selected based on their immediacy and relevance to the area. The mass resignations at the Santa Barbara News-Press stemmed from the owner refusing to print stories for personal reasons. Journalists adopt this very hands-off position for two reasons: They want to tell the truth and to report on what is most important to their readers. They also cannot make arbitrary decisions on what is ideologically “acceptable” to print for practical reasons.
The significance of maintaining a balance between divergent viewpoints is nowhere more relevant than in the Opinion section of the newspaper. The distribution of articles and letters to the editor on these pages should ideally represent their respective frequencies in public opinion. Although this does not always match up perfectly, considering that some groups are more likely to write editorials than others, the best chance a paper has at achieving equality is simple: A newspaper prints the viewpoints that it receives. If the number of individual articles submitted exceeds the amount allotted for an issue, the articles are selected based on how effectively they express their particular position.
Those who object to the content have a number of choices. A: Don’t read it. B: Write a response, tearing the article to shreds with words or C: Just tear the paper itself to shreds. Whatever path you take, please don’t go down the road of censorship. The only way for this newspaper to thrive as a public forum is by allowing for the expression of dissenting opinions. As a campus that is ostensibly dedicated to diversity, we need to take a look in the mirror and consider the dangers of suppressing beliefs that differ from our own. If nothing else, frame the situation from an individual perspective and consider how you’d feel if your opinion was the one being censored.