Every week at The Lawrentian, editors give out article assignments, read the pieces that writers have submitted for that week, and work on the layout and editing until the early hours of the morning. It can be difficult as an editor to continually put so much time and effort into something, without getting a voice about the publication you devote so many hours to, and those that work as editors at the paper have a lot to say about the weekly publication and its relationship to the wider campus.
Senior Emily Zawacki, the current Editor-in-Chief, said that her goal for The Lawrentian is to publish something that people want to pick up and read.
“I think a lot of students don’t realize how much work goes into it…it’s a really big task to put out a newspaper every week, so I want to make sure we’re reporting on interesting things and that we’re both a worthwhile source of information now and for future generations.”
Working towards this goal, individual sections deal with their own problems on a week-to-week basis. Junior Rose Nelson, who edits the News section along with sophomore Brenna Ori, said that the biggest struggle for her and her writers is that there aren’t events happening all the time on Lawrence’s campus.
“If something is going on, people either know about it or don’t really care about it,” Nelson explained. Claire Hoy, sophomore editor of Features, found that her section had to deal with the fact that “we don’t always get the first pick for articles. A lot of time events will be covered by News, we can’t cover sports, and we can’t have opinion pieces, so it’s very difficult to find our own niche for features.”
Because of these difficulties that can sometimes arise from these problems, all of the editors are acutely aware when wider campus isn’t happy with what is published in the paper. When asked what they would say to wider campus about some of the issues that people can have with The Lawrentian, all of the editors were quick to respond, all of them addressing the issue of fact. “When you’re staring at that computer screen for eight hours on Wednesday night and it’s three in the morning and you still have your geology lab to do, it’s hard to catch every [mistake],” said Zawacki.
“Each writer has to reaffirm the honor code that their facts are correct, but a lot of the time we have no idea of knowing whether or not a fact is correct, because it’s in our statement that all facts are provided by their authors. So one person maybe not understanding something or getting something wrong can reflect on the whole paper which is kind of a bummer.”
Senior Nathan Lawrence’s position as Copy Chief means that he is particularly involved in these issues.
“If I was checking every fact that came across my desk all night, I would be there for days. I wish I was in the position to do that and I deeply regret when something passes through that isn’t accurate,” Lawrence asserted.
“What it comes down to is the fact that we have to trust our writers to be honorable and that they’re doing their research, they’re double checking and triple checking as well. It’s a relationship of trust between the editor and the writers. We all trust each other to be doing our jobs well, but sometimes people make a mistake and it goes through.”
Nelson felt that her section in particular often comes under fire for perceived bias, particularly when it comes to Greek life.
“As the News section, we try to be as unbiased as possible, because what’s the point of delivering news if it’s just one sided? I feel some of the [complaints are] based in legitimate stuff, and some of it is blown out of proportion, because for the most part it’s a pretty calm thing, so if there’s anything remotely controversial people latch onto it,” said Nelson, concluding that “it’s not exactly the controversy itself that reflects us, it’s how we handle it.”
Hoy suggested, “if you have a problem, come write for us! If you think our writing is so abhorrent, try it out and see. It’s not an easy job.”
But at the same time, these criticisms are a motivator.
“It’s something that makes us want to work harder,” said Hoy. Variety Editor Amaan Khan agreed, saying that “The Lawrentian is obviously not perfect, again it’s a student publication and we will make mistakes. It’s not a full time job, but we are on a very positive trajectory. We’ve improved a lot; we are a student publication and we rely on the students. If students want to improve their publication, they should always get in touch with us.”
So if you’re a frequent reader of The Lawrentian, with or without criticism or complaint, always feel free to get in touch with your writers and editors, or try out the job for yourself.