On Reclaiming "News"

Posted by The Editorial Board

Last Sunday, the Editorial Board sat down to write an editorial on the identity this newspaper holds on Skidmore's campus -- the niche we occupy -- and we found that we could not do it. We were unable to label anything cohesive about our purpose as a student-run newspaper that made us unique or gave us a particular sense of character.  While admissions will gladly tell you, "there is no typical Skidmore student," we felt as a publication, that it was important to have some sense of identity that made us into a more accurate representation of the Skidmore community. The problem lies, then, in creating a publication that is generally appealing to a collective that refuses to label itself to begin with.

Despite the lacking selection of news sources in print on Skidmore's campus, the student body has an extensive array of potential forums from which to gather their "news." Yes, we have The Skidmore News, but this is just one of a few  of the news sources for students. Skidmore Unofficial, one of the most popular online resources, gives commentary on Skidmore life, but also offers general listings of activities on campus. It is an essential and easy way to stay informed as to what is happening and when in any given part of Skidmore's community.

The Skidmo' Daily, Skidmore's only in-print news source, offers satire born of the Schools' daily life, which tends to be just offensive enough to render it witty and amusing, without making substantial affronts to any particular group of students. Skidmore's so called "Gaping Asshole", definitely mildly more insulting in the jabs it takes at the Skidmore community, is also a satirical news source. There are even widely visited blogs that seem to get a great deal of airtime among students: Everyone Dresses the Same, a collection of photos of students wearing unintentional matching outfits, Skidmore Sleepsmore, students sleeping in various places on campus or, "Shit Skidmore Students Say," giving an account of all the most absurd quotations overheard around campus. For creative writing, art, and photography, students turn to Folio, BARE and Line.          

Despite the evident amusement embodied in all of these forums, they do not seem to give, in the broadest sense, news. So, what is it about The Skidmore News that doesn't seem to be reaching students? Have they simply lost interest in a more neutral, factual news source? Would they rather read Skidmore Unofficial's "weekend updates?" And is this the sort of thing we should be publishing instead? It seems that the inability to identify the Skidmore community in any particular way poses a difficult problem in terms of presenting objective news that does, in fact, reflect the current student body.

We have become the MySpace or the blackberry, of news sources, effectively "one-upped" by more exciting, newer projects. So how do we best access a student body that seems so all over the place in terms of what it seeks in a publication? The Skidmore News is attempting to represent what is essentially unrepresentable, and in doing so; we seem to have lost our prestige on this campus. We are an online newspaper, primarily attempting to communicate objective news, with few more defining characteristics than that. This is our attempt to ask you, seekers of news, what it is that we are lacking. Whether it be more lyrical work, more opinion pieces, more angsty jabs at SGA, we want to know. Perhaps we should focus more on a specific facet of Skidmore, be it clubs or classes. While we do not wish to alter the fundamental characteristics of our publication, we do want to better provide for a collective of students who seem to have a range of interests that is ever evolving. We want input from the students - we want to know how to more accurately cater to the things they care about, without losing our integrity as a journalistic paper. We are, however, at a loss for where to begin.

Suggestions/Commentary Welcome: skidnews@skidmore.edu

The Left

Committee to Assess General Education Requirements