Our View: Student newspaper encourages civil discourse

Hilltop Views Staff

Recently, Hilltop Views published several articles that garnered criticism from readers. As journalists, we expect and encourage discussion over the content we publish, especially when this content is published in our “Viewpoints” section, which is reserved for opinion pieces on a variety of topics.

That being said, we have received a considerable amount of feedback as of late. “Viewpoints” pieces reflect the opinion of their authors, and, for that reason, readers may simply disagree. A difference of opinion does not warrant a personal attack–Hilltop Views provides several outlets for civil, productive discussion of our content.

In our second issue of this semester, we published an article in the “Viewpoints” section of Hilltop Views that has become increasingly controversial. In the article, entitled “School traditions: the good, the bad and the downright made up,” the author examined several traditions at St. Edward’s University, some which he believed were valid and others he believed were infrequently followed or unheard of.

Several readers have voiced opinions about this article, many disagreeing with the author. However, the media used to protest the article’s intentions have been inappropriate, rather than a civil discussion of the issue. The media used to express dissatisfaction with the article did not promote a healthy community discussion.

Facebook and Twitter are valuable social media tools. We maintain Hilltop Views accounts on both Facebook and Twitter in order to connect with our readers. Social media provides an easily accessible outlet for readers to discuss Hilltop Views stories, which supports the intentions of a college newspaper–to inspire civil discourse. Although the newspaper is easily accesible via social media, the scope of social media is limited for not all our readers have a Facebook or Twitter.

Readers who have criticisms or feedback on articles can reach a broader audience by writing letters to the editor. We encourage readers to write letters to the editors whenever they feel passionate about an article. In doing so, the entire St. Edward’s community can be more involved with the discussion, and numerous sides of an argument can be heard. Readers can also provide feedback by using the ‘comments’ feature on the Hilltop Views website.

Student journalists at St. Edward’s are in a unique position to connect with their community of readers. We are a small community, and for that reason, our journalists are more accessible than journalists at larger universities or journalists at major newspapers. 

For this reason, we publish student writers’ names and e-mail addresses on every article in Hilltop Views. If readers have concerns, they can discuss these concerns directly with Hilltop Views writers or editors. We publish e-mail addresses to further encourage discussion between writers and readers. In doing so, we ask that readers uphold academic integrity when contacting writers via e-mail.

Additionally, all St. Edward’s students are welcome to write for Hilltop Views. We hold weekly budget meetings on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. in Moody 209.

The newspaper is a forum for exercising First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, therefore we welcome various points of view and do not censor articles based on the writer’s opinion. Some readers may disagree with an opinion we publish, but that is the nature  of free speech.