We messed up. More specifically, I messed up.
As editor in chief of The Famuan, I’ve been given the daunting task of making sure that everything that finds its way into the paper is presented in a fair and balanced manner and serves the greater good of the university community. So far, I think that I, and the rest of the staff, have done a pretty good job-until now.
On Feb. 24, a “Letter to the Editor” was published in the Opinions section of the newspaper. It came from an instructor in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication. Though the writer had the right to say what he said, the letter was too long and should have been trimmed.
The problem was that we at The Famuan broke our own rules.
The Famuan has a strict policy that states that letters should not exceed 250 words. That letter was more than twice the limit.
Perhaps because it was a journalism-related issue, we thought that it deserved more play. The challenge of filling space in the newspaper may have also played a part in allowing the letter to run in its entirety. As I think back, I cannot pinpoint one particular reason.
No matter what the reason, it was the wrong decision.
Now, in response to that letter, we’ve received another letter.
In it, a professor directly responds to the Feb. 24 letter. He further goes on to highlight his accomplishments and those of the program he heads.
As forewarned by the editorial adviser, this issue is turning into a name-calling and finger-pointing match.
In fairness, I am making the executive decision to run today’s letter in its entirety and to put an end to this topic after today’s letter is printed. It may seem as if I am doing future letter writers a disservice by not running their letters on this subject. It is imperative that this squabble be stopped.
By printing these letters we are allowing people to use The Famuan as their personal boxing ring.
The Famuan was conceived to serve as a vehicle to keep the university community informed about what is happening at their home on the Hill. Telling the stories of FAMU and the people that make FAMU is why this newspaper exists. I refuse to let The Famuan be used as a vehicle to air out people’s personal differences any longer. That goes for faculty and students as well.
In the past, students and faculty have attempted to use the paper to print direct letters to another person in an effort to cast a negative light on that individual. Those letters were denied then, and they will be in the future.
The Famuan welcomes and encourages letters to the editor, as long as they follow the guidelines that have been set forth.
Instead of using the newspaper to broadcast your differences, situations like these should be handled face to face, via e-mail or through some sort of mediation.
The Famuan serves to educate and inform the FAMU community, not expose it to petty bickering.
As long as my name is at the top of the staff box, this paper will serve its true purpose-to act as the voice of the students and to cover the events on FAMU’s campus better than any other media outlet.
To the readers who faithfully support The Famuan, I ask your forgiveness for my recent lapse in judgment. My only promise to you is that it won’t happen again.
If you have a problem with someone, take it to them. Take it out back. Take it to the ring. Don’t bring it to me.
Sidney Wright IV is a sophomore broadcast journalism student from Tampa. He is the editor in chief of The Famuan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.