Be proactive, not reactive

The Daily will host its second public forum today from 2 to 4 p.m. in 325 Coffman Union.

Britt Johnsen

Students are often told to be proactive, not reactive. Now The Minnesota Daily is asking all University community members to do the same.

Since the semester began, the Daily has hosted some events that were poorly attended, even after ample e-mails, advertisements and word of mouth. The events – one public forum and the first-ever multicultural council meeting – are intended to hear questions or concerns about the Daily’s coverage.

When no one comes to raise questions or concerns, we could assume community members do not have any. The Daily exists to serve the University community. The forums and council exist to improve that service. But we can only improve so much without feedback.

Often, the Daily hears feedback only after a mistake is made. The forums and council meetings this year are opportunities for you to ask questions and raise concerns, before mistakes are made. Last year, the Daily published a column by Nick Woomer, which some considered racist. Many people were offended and raised concerns about diversity at the Daily. In response, we hosted two public forums. Though we gained helpful feedback and critique, we spent a lot of time talking about what already happened. We need to move forward, which is exactly what the Daily’s events aim to do.

This situation is very similar to classes. When students don’t participate, the teacher can assume that either they are absorbing the information or they don’t care. If community members don’t raise their hands, we can assume that everything is fine or that no one is paying attention. Feedback shouldn’t come only after a mistake. This is where being proactive is more helpful than reactive.

The public forums and multicultural council meetings are opportunities to be proactive. These events are unique because community members and students can talk openly with the Daily’s administration about how the newspaper can improve.

The multicultural council is also unique because the Daily has never had an advisory panel specifically designed to critique diversity of the Daily’s coverage and talk about story ideas in communities we might not have reached.

As the University community’s primary source of information, we are proud of our work. But the Daily is a constantly evolving paper. That might mean telling stories that have not yet been told or writing stories in different ways. Or it might mean something completely different. Either way, feedback is necessary for progress.

The Daily is asking you to take the time to talk about your newspaper. In a community of nearly 60,000 people, myriad stories and voices should be heard. In what ways could the Daily hear more voices? In what ways could the Daily improve its coverage? What stories have not been told? What could make the Daily more relevant to you, as a community member?

The Daily will host its second public forum from 2 to 4 p.m. today in 325 Coffman Union. From noon to 2 p.m. on Nov. 4, the Daily will host its second multicultural council meeting in 100 Murphy Hall.

We hope you will take these opportunities to raise your hands, your concerns and your voices.

Britt Johnsen is the editor in chief of The Minnesota Daily. She welcomes comments at [email protected]