Editor’s Welcome: The Daily is in your hands: citizen journalism, online media and democracy

Opinion by and
Feb. 1, 2010, 12:03 a.m.

Editor's Welcome: The Daily is in your hands: citizen journalism, online media and democracyWe in the newspaper industry are not immune to an economic downturn. Needless to say, this will not come as “news” to anyone involved in media. Indeed, the newspaper industry is under attack on all fronts: advertising is down, revenues are down and readership is in decline. The industry is under siege as readers are moving to the Internet as their sole source of news. Of course, we have a Web site, but the print version we distribute across campus each day remains at the core of our financial model, leading some to question whether printed newspapers are an anachronism that will disappear in the near future.

In order to combat the changing role of the industry, I launched a new version of our Web site late Sunday night. It still has all the usual features that you have come to know and love, but comes packaged with a whole new look and feel and many additional features. In particular, we have launched online blogs with regular and updated online-exclusive content. We are also multimedia heavy, and are posting videos and photos from around campus on a daily basis.

Our generation demands and is dependent upon the speed of instant information. The Internet has allowed us to gain access to information at a rate that was unimaginable only a few decades ago. Even though at The Daily we provide you with news through our Web site, Twitter, Facebook and our iPhone application, there is still room for improvement. As part of a continuous improvement process at all levels, one of my principal concerns will be to significantly improve our Web site on an ongoing basis. So, in addition to being editor in chief, I am playing the role of Web master.

The core mission of the Web site is to provide information in an easily accessible manner. Access to information is critical to a functioning community. It allows citizens to make responsible, educated choices and prevents them from acting out of ignorance. It checks that elected representatives stay true to their commitments and uphold their oaths. The Daily then, is Stanford’s newspaper of record. It is more than a topic of conversation over lunch; it is a watchdog, a fact-checker and a time capsule of campus life for years to come. The new Web site will allow more readers to access this information in real-time, monitoring developing stories and breaking news, well before they make it into the print edition.

Yet, technology can only take us so far. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

We have already fulfilled the issue of freedom: since 1973, we have been a fully independent news source. The University agrees to honor the autonomy of the Stanford Daily Publishing Corporation in its governance and to respect the independence of the Company’s newsgathering, news dissemination and educational mission.

However, perhaps more can be done in the realm of serving the public interest and, as per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, allowing the community to “impart information.” If the media is to have any meaningful role in a democratic community at Stanford, then the ultimate goal should be to allow credible voices to participate in a range of mediums.

So, I am opening up The Daily to you: the reader, the audience. Students, faculty, staff and community members are all invited to participate in the content of our University’s newspaper. Any participatory democratic community benefits if its citizens are engaged in an interactive conversation about how the media carries out its role in society. A large aspect of this is freedom and diversity of expression. As hard as our fantastic team of editors and writers are, we simply cannot report on everything that happens in our community. This is where you come in – the diversity of expression.

The new Web site allows us as a newspaper, and as a University community, to experiment with this new frontier of media and citizen-centric journalism. I invite you to share your ideas and passion to help us develop a new and interactive media environment at Stanford, in which The Daily fulfills its responsibility and the citizen journalist is seen as a valuable resource and noteworthy contributor to the overall process of mass communication.

To that end, if you see something out of the ordinary on campus, take a photo of it. The next time you rush the field at a sporting event, take a video of it. If you hear a rumor about something newsworthy, let us know. Do you have an opinion about something we published? Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed. Have you had a unique experience on campus? Write a guest column. I can’t promise that we will publish everything, but I aim to publish a large percentage of reader submitted content.

So, visit stanforddaily.com each day for new, online-exclusive content, pick up a copy of The Daily each day to tap into the pulse of what’s happening on campus, learn about people’s stories and find out what happened in the latest sporting event.

Let me know what you think of the new Web site and the role of The Daily. Feel free to e-mail me at [email protected], call (650) 721-5815 or stop by our office at the Lorry I. Lokey building. But, most importantly, get involved! This is your newspaper. Welcome to The Stanford Daily, Volume 237.


Kamil Dada

President and Editor in Chief, Vol. 237

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