Letter from the editor-in-chief: Not on board with ‘the board’


Most students have probably noticed the “Fact of the Day” board next to the information desk in the BSC. I want to propose something that I hope is obvious: Most of the “facts” posted there are not true. No, I don’t really think that scientists have confirmed that early morning classes do not allow students to take in as much information as classes taught in the afternoon – and that, thus, sleeping in is better for learning. And yes, I also reject the claim that a group of monkeys – given enough time – could eventually write the next great American novel. I have always scoffed at these claims, and though they may be amusing, they seem to solidify academia’s greatest fear: using Wikipedia – or some other easily manipulated website – as a source for facts. SLU should halt this type of academic malpractice, this attack on credibility and veracity. The “Fact of the Day” board should have either a Works Cited readily available for the curious passerby looking to confirm its ridiculous claims, or it should go.

But allow me to descend from my soapbox, for a moment and defend one recent statement found on the BSC whiteboard. “Facebook is the most trafficked website among college students,” it read (or something quite similar). Though this information was most likely pulled from a poll on Facebook (I can hear Research Methods professors exhaling in frustration), I think that it is probably true: We undergrads love Facebook – and any other website that allows us to share photos and statuses, for that matter.

What does that say about us? From the perspective of an admittedly cynical newspaper editor (me), it screams: Hey! People don’t read newspapers! Print media is dead! Anything over 400 words is the new long-form essay! Run away fast and learn how to code! If it’s not quick and likeable, it’s not worth your time!

But the prevalence and accessibility of Facebook and other social-media and Internet media do not diminish the value of traditional modes of communication – books, newspapers, magazines. I think that people still crave reading material that truly engages the mind, that takes more than two minutes to read, that carries weight in the larger world.

Facebook, cell phones, social media: the whole conglomerate of new technologies should be viewed as evolving modes of entertainment.Just as we figured out that smoking – another pastime once wildly popular – causes cancer and disease, it won’t be long (I hope) before the detrimental effects of social media-induced short attention spans are realized. Traditional media forms, I believe, will make a roaring comeback.

Perhaps these are simply the musings of someone with a vested interest in the continuation of the often-shunned forms of media. But I seriously believe that there is still a space in today’s world for newspapers and books and all the things that force one to think deeply and not scroll past something of immediate interest.

The “Fact of the Day” board may, in fact, provide a great service to students; with it, we have the opportunity to challenge the truthfulness of its claims and flex our educational muscles. Maybe this whiteboard is actually a sign of SLU’s support of its student-run paper. Always do honest research, it seems to be saying. Embrace media that works hard to bring you stories and useful information.

The short translation: Read the UNews.

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