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Monday, November 19, 2018

Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor: This year, The Cougar will sweat the small stuff


It’s the little things that always worry me. I can make grand, sweeping decisions fairly quickly, but it’s the minutia of a task that trips me up.

When I look back on the state of a newspaper I’ve been leaving my fingerprint on since May, I’m probably going to toil over a fragment of the entire picture.

But what I want to talk about is big… at least it feels that way to me. I’ll be the first to admit that we didn’t get everything right last semester — shockingly, the incredibly driven student journalists of The Cougar are students, and we still have a few things to learn.

A lot happened in 2014, and while it’s not my intention to be insensitive and reduce real events down to their news value, that’s what the job demands sometimes. In my mind, what stands out most from last year are two senseless tragedies – suicides, both involving University students and both which left the public with lots of questions and few avenues for finding answers.

The Cougar could’ve used our unique platform to express some solidarity with the community struggling to find peace, or even admit that we were just as confused as the public on how to handle this senseless news twice in one year.

Aside from covering these events in a purely objective, journalistic capacity, I chose not to insert my viewpoints and the viewpoints of our readers into the fairly hushed public dialogue on the suicides.

We didn’t do a story on the rising suicide rates that come each winter, and we didn’t talk about the suicides outside of simply explaining to the public what happened. And I regret that. I regret that The Cougar did not say more about suicide, as a source that you could maybe glean some comfort and insight from. I regret not letting more people be heard, not expressing the confusion and anger that can, and did, grip a community after tragedy.

Among many things, one thing I want The Cougar to do is just that – to make sure that all voices are heard.

And I’m not advocating advocacy, as that’s neither my prerogative as an editor or within the bounds of this publication’s mission to do so. What I’m calling for is for this news organization to be used in the way that its founders intended, which is to serve as a public forum for members of the UH community.

Here’s to getting the little things right in 2015.

-Cara Smith, editor in chief


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