When DM editors leave, they usually write around 700 words about how much they love the University of Mississippi and how thankful they are for the Student Media Center. While I absolutely share those sentiments, I have decided to spare you of my sob story, and instead, I’ll use my last column to clear up a few misconceptions about The Daily Mississippian.
- Everyone who works at the DM is an actual human being and a student at UM.
I know this sounds obvious, but you would be very surprised with how many people (especially burner accounts) legitimately believe we’re “Satanic perverts,” “Godless liberals,” “fear mongers,” “repulsive” and “going to end up in (our) parents’ basements.” In reality, we are tired college students — just like you or your children — trying to do good work, graduate on time and finish our homework.
Part of the job of working at the DM is facing backlash when we report on things people don’t like or see as “bad news.” I have been called every curse word under the sun, had angry parents call the Student Media Center about stories I have written and have dealt with lawyers threatening to sue me and my coworkers. It’s all part of the job, and we’ve dedicated arguably too much time to sharing the funniest and most ridiculous comments we have received.
That being said, if you are an administrator that feels the need to “clap back” against the student newspaper instead of answering inquiries for the stories you claim to disagree with, I have no sympathy for the “bad press” you receive. I promise that the effort you put into those public criticisms is more embarrassing for you than it is for me.
- We do publish positive stories in the DM, actually.
One of the biggest criticisms the DM receives is that we don’t publish any good or positive stories. If you would actually keep up with coverage besides what outrage you see on Twitter, you would know that we publish several “positive” or neutral stories in the DM every week — with the same objectivity we use in our “negative” ones. I would not particularly say that the DM is the voice of the students, but rather a mirror of campus that reflects what is actually happening here. We don’t fluff up reality in order to boost enrollment. However, if you are looking to ignore the problems happening right in front of you and care more for positive stories, I will leave a few links below.
I am not a public relations figurehead. It has never been my job to publish “happy” stories that promote UM, and it has never been my job to be liked — by administrators or even other students who do not like what we publish. It is our job as journalists to call out wrongdoing and shed light on systemic issues that seem to perpetually plague UM, even after attempts at social progress. This, in particular, moves us into my next point.
- There is a difference between op-eds and news.
Coming into this position, I didn’t expect that around 60% of our audience would not be media literate, but that seems to be true. According to Merriam-Webster, opinion is defined as “a view, judgment or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter.” Our opinion columnists — who are not allowed to produce content outside of the opinion section — have views that I and the DM staff do not agree with. Their columns are not news, and our news is not opinion.
I have had to bite my tongue many times when editing and publishing particularly fiery opinions because that is all that they are: opinions. Though many seem to ignore our weekly disclaimer that is published in every print issue of the DM, the concept of individuality is still lost among many thoughtful readers. In case you need a refresher, here is the official policy regarding the publication of op-eds and letters to the editor:
Columns do not represent the views of the University of Mississippi or The Daily Mississippian. The Daily Mississippian welcomes letters to the editor, which should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters should be no longer than 300 words. They may be edited for clarity, brevity and libel. Third-party letters and those with pseudonyms or no name will not be published. Letters are limited to one per individual per month. Letters should include contact information, including relationship to the university, if applicable.
- We do love the University of Mississippi.
This is probably the biggest myth I’m going to debunk. Are there times where I am extremely frustrated with the lack of transparency at UM? Yes. Do I think we still have miles to go in order to have true equality and equity among the many identities and communities that make up the entire UM community? Also, yes. Is the DM going to call out those inequalities whenever it can? Yes. Does that mean that we, as a staff and as individuals, hate the university? Absolutely not.
I am a third-generation Ole Miss Rebel that grew up only an hour away from Oxford. I still vaguely remember Colonel Reb at football games and listening to “From Dixie, With Love” in the Grove. I am very familiar with the culture and traditions that have hurt the students and community that UM has claimed to have loved and cared for.
I’ve watched this place get rid of a Confederate monument, but there is still so much room for it to grow. I am an adamant believer that The Daily Mississippian can help facilitate that growth through honest and brave reporting.
This university has given me so much — funding for an education, experience that I’m carrying into the workplace and a community of people that I’ll cherish forever. I promised you in the lede that I wouldn’t get too emotional, so I’ll wrap it up here. Hotty Toddy and go to hell, LSU.
Eliza Noe is a senior journalism major from Amory and the outgoing editor-in-chief of The Daily Mississippian. Maddy Quon will take over as editor-in-chief for the 2021-2022 school year.