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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Trust Issues

Muck the Newspaper Pup enjoys the newspaper. Do you?
Muck the Newspaper Pup enjoys the newspaper. Do you?

A reflection on journalism in the 21st century

Why are you reading this?

I’m serious. Why are you reading this article, this “Letter from the Editor” on the back of Wofford’s student newspaper? Why pick it up at all?

There are plenty of other ways to get updates on current events, on happenings, on student opinions. Just open Twitter or Instagram and you’ll see Wofford Terriers using those platforms to showcase their voices without the hassle of picking up a physical copy or searching for our website. 

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Maybe you wanted to read an article your friend wrote, so you picked up a copy to show your support. Maybe you want an update on football and basketball. Or maybe you aren’t interested in reading the paper, and just wanted to look at the headlines. 

Whatever your reasons are for picking up the first copy of 2021, I would like to say thank you. 

Over the past few years, the nation’s trust in our press has rapidly dwindled. With allegations of “fake news” across all breadths of journalism means that confidence in the fair exercise of the First Amendment has decayed. Even as a student journalist, I am disappointed in how this progression has degraded the foundation of media outlets.

At the Old Gold & Black, we adhere to a set of guidelines—AP Style. The Associated Press (AP) created guidelines for newspapers to follow in order to be as clear, as truthful and as ethical as possible. It’s like MLA format for reporters, except it also includes instructions on how to be ethical in writing. 

In newspaper articles, every word counts. From page-long entries about the appropriate use of “3” instead of “three” to guidelines on how to avoid libel, the AP Manual of Style is supposed to be a comprehensive directory on how to use the freedom of the press in a way that provides readers with the right information free from spin, no matter what direction. 

All journalists, including the OG&B staff, learn the intricacies of this handbook specifically to avoid bias in writing as much as possible—unless it’s an opinion piece, of course. While bias is impossible to fully avoid, for reporters to use their First Amendment rights to detract from the truth rather than report the facts is a disgrace to the press as a whole.

The responsibility that comes with presswork is far too great to ignore. Even when some news sites choose to ignore the principles of reporting, even when public figures cast unfounded doubt on the validity of reports, readers cannot and should not give up on the press. 

“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.”

These words written by Henry Anatole Grunwald, former managing editor of TIME magazine, resonate with me right now. We work hard to make sure student voices are heard, and to make sure that we are reporting on everything we can. 

Following the riots at the Capitol ahead of President-Elect Joe Biden’s approaching inauguration, it is important now more than ever to hold our press to the standards of AP, and denounce when following those principles is labelled as “fake news.”

So I ask again—why are you reading this? I hope it’s because you can trust the Old Gold & Black as a reliable source of news. We are not perfect; writers come and go, which can make it difficult to build on what we are learning each year. But, we are a passionate group of traditionally untraditional storytellers who put facts first.

Maybe instead of that last sentence, something like: “But, we are a passionate group of traditionally untraditional storytellers who put facts first.”

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