Letter from the Editor: Our response to our readers

Michael Bragg

In regards to the recent backlash over an opinion piece titled “Let’s secede and try something new” by Lindsay Bookout, I would like to take the time to address the community’s concerns.

First of all, we were wrong for publishing this article. I was wrong, and I apologize to our entire readership.

The responses we got from Bookout’s opinion were strong, but as the editorial board and I continued to read them, we realized what we needed to do to address the situation.

This year, we’ve been making near-constant changes as we have moved to an online daily news organization. One of the largest changes we made coming in to this year was implementing an opinion desk. Up until this point, we have considered the newness of the opinion desk to be an excuse for certain mistakes.

But in a professional setting, there is seldom room for mistakes. Although we are student journalists, we are journalists, nonetheless, and should be held to a higher standard.

However, I firmly believe that as student journalists learning the craft, we should be allowed a small degree of leeway when it comes to what we publish. While we can try and find somewhere to place blame for Bookout’s opinion piece, the fact is it should not have run.

When I first took this job, I met with our Opinion Editor and Managing Editor to discuss changes that needed to be made to the opinion desk. This incident has only reinforced the importance of more stringent guidelines for opinion articles.

Now, anyone who writes an opinion is required to have three credible sources before an article is published. The Opinion Editor, Kevin Griffin, and Managing Editor, Anne Buie, are continuing to plan mandatory workshops to help the opinion desk continue learning.

We will never pretend to be a perfect organization. We will make mistakes.

But we appreciate our readers holding us accountable as we strive to be come a credible, online daily news source. The negative responses we received reiterated that we have a long way to go as student journalists.

Newspapers as a whole cannot function without their readers, and while the response to this particular piece was overwhelmingly negative, I would like to take the time to thank you all for holding us accountable for an opinion piece that should not have run the way it did.

We value our readers’ continued input in our product, and I would encourage you to email me at editor@theappalachianonline.com or stop by my office in the Student Publications Office, room 217 in the Plemmons Student Union, to speak with me in person. If I’m not available, my Managing Editor, Anne Buie (buieam@appstate.edu), would be more than happy to speak with you.

Thank you again for your continued and involved readership.

Michael Bragg
Editor-in-Chief, 2012-13
The Appalachian