Are Opinions journalists obsolete?

Written By Brooke Stephens, Opinions Section Editor

For those of you who do not know me, hello! I am a sophomore Journalism major who has always had an interest in writing, reading, and learning about how people communicate. More so, how they are able to communicate better. I figure it is important I give you this information because Newspaper 101: people are less likely to read what you have to say if they do not know who you are. To add onto that, I was educated by a proud Point Park graduate on print and broadcast journalism, so I have been able to absorb some of the changes in the industry and school so far. 

 

When people hear that I chose Journalism as my field of study, I have received varied responses. Nice, simple blanket statements of, “Oh, that’s quite exciting,” where you can’t really tell their sincerity but you tell them a fact about the program just to keep the conversation rolling. One individual also said, “So you’re going to be one of those people?” Which, in hindsight I understand, but I would have personally liked more elaboration. There is only one other statement which is ingrained in my memory to this day, “Oh, so you’re going to be the last real journalist?”

 

I was absolutely stunned. I shouldn’t have been, given that it was 2021 and I tend to be hyper aware of the state of the media at all times. He was an older man who said it more as a comment than a question, and in my mind my jaw had fallen to the floor. 

Could I possibly live up to the expectations of a career which has survived thousands of years of innumerable counts of struggle and exploitation? 

 

The answer is, of course, no. There are legendary journalists who I only wish I could meet, and my fellow staff members who I have witnessed display true talent and devotion to their craft. Although, I am still here. I am a writer and editor like many, many people who came before me. The place of opinions in modern day media needs to be examined. 

 

Opinions in a newspaper, and only in the opinions section of a newspaper (besides movie, television, music, or sports reviews) means freedom. This may seem obvious to some readers, but to others I am afraid they believe that the opinions section is a trap in modern day press. That having opinions in a newspaper is counterintuitive. However, newspapers were started as a location to spread political propaganda. There needs to be an articulated location where people can access similar, or varying opinions, depending on the beliefs they carry as a human being. 

 

I would like to emphasize the last two words of that paragraph: human being. I am a human with emotions, thoughts, and feelings. If I write a piece for The Globe which someone does not agree with, then I understand it is up for respectful scrutiny and confrontation. I do relate being an Opinions Editor of a newspaper to my own personal situation of playing cymbals in a marching band. You may not hear us, see us clearly, or understand why we don’t just play the drums. Nevertheless, we still keep the beat which the rest of the band may or may not have to follow. 

 

To translate, people may skim over the opinions section entirely. They may not relate to or agree with our viewpoints at all, or understand why Opinions Editors don’t become News or Features Editors. I believe that they miss the entire point. 

 

If people were not allowed to share their biases in the news at all, then it would be extremely difficult for society to constructively perceive any given topic. To this point I have written about relationships, concerts, respect, mental health, and more over the course of the past year. Opinion editors are given the power, which should not be abused, to open a public discourse on what is happening in the world. If you want to go completely without that, I would call your personal values into question. 

 

If a billionaire who called Twitter a “de facto Times Square” can have an attentive audience, then I know the writers who write and edit the articles about him should too.