Frankly Speaking is important. It is extremely valuable to communication within the Olin community as a forum for people to bring issues to discussion. I’m worried, because as important as the paper is, Frankly Speaking doesn’t seem sustainable.
Most of Olin’s written communication takes place over email. Important issues are brought up and discussed on ThinkTank, Radical Notion, even Therapy and Sexuality. But there are two major problems with these email lists as public forums: they are self-selecting, and they are not fully developed as pieces of writing.
Frankly Speaking reaches a broad audience. It’s not just students who read our paper, but faculty and staff, administrators, some of the general public, and even students from other colleges. I know they read it up in OSL, because they sent me corrections from last month’s issue (see the Errata). And that’s just the paper version. If you’re looking for reach, the newspaper will get there.
Discussions such as the value of the scholarship, gender issues, and course requirements have all been discussed on mailing lists. And it’s good that discussion happens there; information is shared and opinions are formed.
But list discussions are transient, and the outcomes of long and involved discussions, more often than not, recede to the backs of people’s minds and list archives rather than being acted upon. Publication in the newspaper is the final step: if you reason out an argument, it’s time to get the broader community in on the discussion. And that’s what this newspaper is for.
The other benefit to a published medium is that you must think your argument out and figure out how to communicate the idea to other people. You have to think hard to write. And if you get it, as roughly as necessary, out of email or out of your head, send it to us. We’ll help you think about how to phrase your thoughts so that you are writing good, clear English and expressing yourself.
I don’t know why the newspaper is dying. Perhaps people are afraid that their thoughts aren’t important enough to publish, or that their writing isn’t good enough. But if you’ve spent enough time thinking about it to write it out, it’s important. And if your writing is terrible, we’ll help you fix it until it’s worth publishing.
Maybe people think the newspaper is great, in theory, but somehow can’t make the time to write five hundred words about something they really care about. I know that there are a lot more articles proposed than actually written every month. And maybe people it just falls by the wayside. It’s not necessarily a conscious choice to prioritize Reddit over the future of Olin’s curriculum or political discourse. But that’s how it ends up, at the end of the month.
This scares me, the degree to which people let important issues slide just because they’re busy now. And piled together, the non-participation is so great that I’m afraid Frankly Speaking will die.
Do you disagree- is a published newspaper a waste? Can we make it easier for people to get involved? Send me your thoughts, your comments and suggestions, to Kelsey.breseman at students.olin.edu. I’d love to hear from you.