An open letter to the University community, from your campus newspaper

It’s time to talk about the Torch’s role as student journalists.

Leading up to the election, our editorial board planned several articles, designs and possible front pages depending on the outcome. While those ideas constantly changed, one thing remained certain: the front page would feature the winner of the race regardless of who it was.

At around 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, when the final results came in and it was confirmed that Hillary Clinton had conceded to Donald Trump, we got to work designing our front page, which featured an image of Trump speaking. Underneath the photo stood the headline “History” with a quote from his acceptance speech as the subhead: “It is time for us to come together.”

Little did we know that the next day, some of our papers would be torn up on campus, some stacks flipped over to hide the front page and our organization cursed at on social media.

While we acknowledge that the presidential election paved the way for high tension and emotions throughout the last year and a half, we cannot refrain from fully conducting our journalistic duties.

Our decision to put Trump on the front page was an editorial decision that we stand by. Although we are a student-run newspaper, we make every effort to embody the traits of a professional news outlet. We pride ourselves on our efforts to be fair in our reporting.

Last week’s front page is an example of this.

As we wrote in our editorial “Dear Mr. President” last week, our own editorial board did not agree on the outcome of the election. Therefore, it’s understandable that our readers also have mixed feelings.

As student journalists, it is our duty to report the news ethically and truthfully. While we are not yet paid professionals in our field, we are building ourselves up to that, and must embody the traits of who we hope to become.

Recently, the New York Times promised to “rededicate” themselves to honest reporting following months of accusations that their reporting was biased. Situations like these are another reason why we want to make sure that our readers understand that as an E-board, we will do everything in our power to bring to St. John’s University the most accurate, fair and vetted articles that we possibly can. We will try our very hardest to be the change we all need to see in the legacy of media today.

Our job is not easy. It’s difficult to remain neutral when certain situations affect some of our closest friends, professors and families.

It’s hard to not exercise our passions and voice our beliefs – simply because before we’re journalists, we’re human beings. But we have to remain objective if we want to be considered a true source of news for our fellow students.

Tearing up newspapers is a form of censorship, and we will not stand for it. And that isn’t because we’re bothered by the fact that our work is being destroyed by our peers, it’s because we firmly believe that you, our readers, have a right to unbiased news.

With that being said, we welcome criticism. We welcome all points of view. We always want to hear from you.

Our opinion section is our way of committing this to the University. Students will always have a space to voice their thoughts so long as the Torch remains at this campus.

So, write us a letter, or send us an email at [email protected]. Come to our office, located in the basement of O’Connor Hall, and talk to us. Our door is always open and we’d be happy to hear from you. After all, you, the students of this University, are the reason we do this job.

So to our fellow students who were upset by our paper – we hear you. But we will not stand for, or condone, any type of censorship.

We’re here to report the news, and that is what we will continue to do.