Letter from the editor: Student body to chart Daily Cougar’s course

Change can often be a good thing. Without it, things get stale, old and generally boring.

When it comes to newspapers however, change can be hard to come by. There is a need for consistency, yes, when deciding what your paper is going to look like, but sometimes that comes at the cost of innovation. Print journalism today is undergoing drastic changes in how it presents its news. For the longest time, those in the craft held close to the idea that they were in the newspaper business. Not so. They are in the information business. Paper is simply how they deliver their product.

Today, newspaper companies are taking a serious look at how they present their material on the Internet. They realize that one day most of their readers will look to the Web to get their news. Newspaper readers are generally in a well-educated, middle-to-high income demographic, which coincidentally is also the most wired. We here at The Daily Cougar see this trend as well, and have over the summer revamped our own Web site to better serve our readers. Now available at, our site offers quick access to all your day’s news, as well as links to interesting articles at other student papers throughout the nation.

There are a few more amenities as well, ones that will help the student body feel more connected to a paper that, quite frankly, many tend to write off as unimportant or unrepresentative of them.

At the bottom of each article on the Web site you will find a place for readers to post a comment. All you have to do is enter your name, e-mail address (you could use a fake one, I guess) and then you can post your thoughts.

Throughout the summer, we’ve already gotten a few quite heated discussions going. Much of the credit for that I would have to give to both Sousan Hammad and Kris Clancy’s debates over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both UH students, they were filing their stories from the West Bank and Tel Aviv, respectively, all summer.

Another interesting addition is the insta-poll section of our Web site. We will update it regularly with new questions relevant to an ongoing story in the news. Whether it is about the University, city, state or anything else, you can be sure that it will have some type of relevance for the average Cougar.

This is all-important to an opinion editor because it deals with my side of the newspaper business: ideas. With a few clicks of the mouse, you too can tell us what you think of the story, debate an issue or offer suggestions to make the paper – which is truly your paper -better.

This is democracy in action, and we want to hear from you. If you read a compelling story, post your thoughts about it. If something you read makes you angry, debate it in the comments. If you thought a story or column in the paper was sub-par, make your voice heard. One of the biggest obstacles toward making The Daily Cougar something that students can’t wait to pick up in the morning is that we don’t know what you want out of us.

For the consistent, well-written commenter, you may find yourself getting an e-mail from our new opinion editor, Sousan Hammad next semester. We are always looking for new writers willing to stand up and be heard.

To write for the Opinion page, you don’t have to be a journalism major. We have computer science, political science and business majors all writing for the section. All that’s required is the ability to get a 400 to 700-word column in on a relatively consistent basis. A strong, opinionated personality certainly helps, though. We would like to see people with specific knowledge in a field, someone who is able to speak clearly and from a well-educated position to comment about what is going on in current events. Typically columnists write on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, but we also accept one-timers as well. What’s more, if you have something to say, but don’t want to submit anything because you feel you don’t have any writing experience, we can help. In addition to offering an instructional packet for the first-time opinion columnist, we will always be happy to take the time to help them with their writing, and make any suggestions that would help them improve. For more information, see the how-to article later in this section.

In reality, it’s not as tough as you think. Trust me.

For someone on his way out, I feel confident that the new Opinion editor, Sousan Hammad, will continue to provide balanced yet lively discussions on Page 4 of The Daily Cougar. Help her make this the most involved, lively section of the paper by submitting your own columns, as well as commenting on the stories you find interesting on the Web site.

No doubt you’ll run into people who disagree with you, but this is a marketplace of ideas, and we know you all are discerning consumers.

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