Editor’s Desk: Why criticism is needed
POSTEDApril 25, 2016
Readers role in future of The Mercury, journalism vital for success
As the year comes to a close, students across campus are taking time to reflect on just how far they have come. As I do the same to look back on my year as Editor-in-Chief, I’ve realized that the times when our readership has been the most critical of The Mercury have played the biggest role in shaping our publication.
More importantly, I’ve realized just how much we need people to hold us accountable and how important it is for readers to tell us when we’re wrong.
I’ll be the first to admit we’re not perfect. I’ve lost much sleep over stories that I thought we could have reported better. Even though the paper has picked up a number of awards this year, I think less about those and more about the ways in which we should be improving.
Luckily, I haven’t been the only one to scrutinize these weaknesses. At first, whenever people would criticize my team’s work, I would get defensive. I felt that if I wasn’t leading the team to make a perfect paper every time, I wasn’t doing my job.
When people have sent us angry letters and emails and made frustrated phone calls, it was hard to deal with. However, when I take a step back to look at what those messages have taught the team and myself, the lessons have been invaluable. Too often we go through life thinking that we can do no wrong.
Having people tell me otherwise has been humbling and educational at the same time. It’s made me realize the people who have different perspectives than me aren’t villains — they’re humans who have their own set of beliefs and values just like me.
Looking at the future of journalism, one of the aspects I lament the most is how many people have turned to mistrusting the “mass media.” I’ve realized part of the reason for this is because the majority of news outlets have decided to treat those who disagree with them as hostile complainants, rather than as a member of the communities they should be striving to serve. If journalism is going to be saved, that needs to change.
Part of this falls on the journalists themselves, but another part falls on those who are taking in the news. Because of this, I want to present a challenge to our readers in the future: disagree with us. Hold us accountable for the words we give you. Make us better.
Although saying this in the age of TMZ may seem borderline crazy, I still believe in the power of the Fourth Estate. Without journalists, there would be no direct mechanism to hold those in power accountable. That’s a responsibility we cannot take lightly.In some of the letters I’ve received, I’ve gotten the feeling that those writing to me thought I couldn’t care less about them. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Here at The Mercury, we know we’re fighting for the people of UTD. So let us know your concerns. Tell us when we’re wrong, because we’re always striving to try and make it right.
As I end my term, I’m more than confident that the staff staying on will carry out their mission exceptionally. They’re some of the most talented, intelligent and caring people I know. But they need your help to make them even better.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve learned just how powerful words are. With that power comes an intense amount of responsibility. The Mercury owes you the best coverage and stories you can get. Expect nothing less and tell us when we can do better. Believe me, you’re complaints won’t fall on deaf ears. Even when it feels like no one else is, we’re listening.
-Esteban Bustillos, Editor-in-Chief