A lot of student journalists talk about “Truth” like it’s a tangible object. “We have to find the Truth!” they vow, like Truth is just a set of car keys that are lost between couch cushions.
Here’s a tip for the Truthers, the armchair journalists, and the idealists: “Truth” is a mythical, phantom entity. Every story has a level of subjectivity that shifts meaning with each new perspective.
As the editor-in-chief of The Lafayette, I gave up on the capital-T Truth, because deciding what is the Truth almost always results in editorialized journalism and leads you to discount other voices that don’t concur with that determined, probably false Truth. The pursuit of Truth is still important, mind you…but thinking that it’s attainable is a fool’s notion.
Instead, I tried to instill Perspectivist approach, taking a situation or issue and gathering as many subjective opinions as possible. There will always be holes, refused comments and unheard opinions that prevent the 360-degree Truth from being told. But if you try hard enough to be objective, and receive all perspectives equally, people will notice, and you’ll earn something infinitely valuable: Trust.
Trust is more tangible than Truth. You know when you have it. I’m proud that, at the end of my tenure as editor-in-chief, I feel that The Lafayette has the Trust of the Lafayette community. There were burned bridges that needed to be rebuilt, to be sure, and bridges that have yet to be restored. But if I could give one piece of advice to my successor, Matt Mitterhoff, it would be to truly value the Trust of the Lafayette community.
Trust gives you sources, open and willing voices who feel comfortable going on record because they know that The Lafayette does its best to get the whole story. Again, it’s usually impossible to get to the Truth, but putting forth concerted effort into the Sisyphean quest will eventually solidify the Trust of the community. By the same token, solidifying Trust will get you closer to the Truth, by virtue of willing and open sources.
It’s tough to let go of The Lafayette right now. I feel like I’ve just gotten the hang of it, and I have so many more ideas I want to implement to make us more relevant and readable. But I’m supremely confident that the New Guard will continue to elevate the newspaper.
It is my pleasure to announce those successors: Matt Mitterhoff ‘16 will be the new editor-in-chief, Reine Pavlik ‘15 will assume managing editor; Will Gordon ‘17, Anastasia Gayol-Cintron ‘17, and Drew Friedman ‘16 will run the sections; Hana Ishihara ‘17 will take over photos; and the ever-reliable Kate Cherney ‘15 will continue to do incredible work on the bottom line of The Lafayette.
I wish them the best of luck in their struggle for your Trust. They have a legacy to live up to but I have little doubt they’ll make you proud.
Michael A. Kowaleski ‘14