Separating news from opinion protects journalism from bias

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Peter Chen

Students have reached out to me multiple times this semester. Some are student leaders, others are just curious. They usually ask the same questions. 

“Why did you guys cover this and not this?”

“Why is this newsworthy?”

It is clear, now more than ever, that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of how journalism works and how we operate. We’ve noticed it here at The Daily Texan, and we’ve noticed it in the real world. 

Let’s start with this: My name is Akshay Mirchandani. I am the managing editor of the Texan. My colleague, Alexander Chase, is the editor-in-chief. He was elected by you, the student body, and oversees the opinion department. He is your gateway to student voices. 

I wasn’t elected. I was appointed by the Texas Student Media board and oversee every department other than opinion. That’s how the Texan has done it for years and it works for us. 

In the wake of the presidential election, it is clear that the lines between news and opinion have become blurred in the minds of readers and media consumers. Remember that fun time during the race when newspapers across the country were endorsing candidates? Remember that fun time a couple of weeks ago when this newspaper endorsed SG candidates?

Allow me to clarify — it is the editorial board of that newspaper that decides who to endorse. The Dallas Morning News endorsing Hillary Clinton in no way means that every single person in their building feels the same way. Our opinion department endorsing a candidate is not meant to begin a war. 

On my end of things, we are completely objective. Our sports writers can’t wear burnt orange and scream “Hook ’em!” in the press box. Our news reporters can’t offer their opinion on hot-button issues they might be covering. 

If something is newsworthy and directly affects our audience, we’re covering it. Each side will get their chance to comment for absolute fairness and we present the accurate facts. We make mistakes and we’re not perfect, but none of our news is fake. 

Sadly, there is a stigma attached to news now. President Donald Trump calling a New York Times or Washington Post story “fake news” because it doesn’t agree with his agenda does not make it inaccurate. Those stories are written by some of the best reporters in the business, reporters that some of us in our office strive to be. 

We leave the commentary on campus, state and national issues to our opinion department. My side will continue to report stories accurately and fairly.

But in a city and a campus like this one, it’s hard to cover all of it. As much as I wish we had the resources of The New York Times, we don’t. Here’s where you come in.

Reach out to me, and reach out to whoever my successors will be when I’m gone. Past editors-in-chief have done a tremendous job of being a face around campus, but we’d like for the student body to get to know who can tell your story. 

Call me. Email me. Send me a carrier pigeon. It doesn’t matter. I’m here and my office door is always open, whether for a news tip or a complaint about a story. Tell us what is going on in your community that we might not know about. We welcome that. 

No matter what, the Texan will continue to operate like we have. I can’t speak for the opinion department, but I can say that if something is newsworthy, we’ll be there. Like always.

Mirchandani is a journalism senior from Allen. He is the managing editor.