A Challenge For More Faculty to Participate in The Outlook

Every week, students from a vari­ety of majors attempt to come up with story ideas, mold them into topics of interest and finally collect comments from professionals as expert sources. On top of other commitments includ­ing homework, other clubs and em­ployment, these students regularly get it done.

One of the most frustrating things for a writer is being ignored when asking a professor or staff member of the University for a comment or an interview. Here at The Outlook, we understand a busy schedule as well as anyone, but is it really that hard to email the writer back either stating you are not the best source for com­ment (It is always appreciated when someone suggests who would be.) or that you do not have the time to share your thoughts?

The Outlook does not reach out to faculty and staff members haphaz­ardly. Our writers take time to look at course selections and professor profile pages to find the best sources to par­ticipate in our articles.

One might feel it is, actually, an obligation of staff members, profes­sors in particular, to share their schol­arly knowledge with the University community and the paper. Our job as journalists is to publish facts and opinions surrounding situations and concerns that are important to our readers.

Some members of the University community, including President Paul Gaffney II, Vice President of Student Services Mary Anne Nagy and Vice President of Administrative Services Patti Swannack are some of the busi­est people on campus. However, when The Outlook calls, they are more than happy to help us produce the best stories possible, even on very short notice, which they have done consis­tently throughout the years.

Some departments have made themselves readily available to The Outlook as well. This year, as the Presidential Election took place, the Political Science Department was al­ways open to answer questions from staff members from a variety of sec­tions. The Communication Depart­ment also recognizes the importance of making themselves available for comment, which they do regularly and reliably.

Financial aid, the library staff and the School of Science have also con­tributed to many of the stories that have appeared in the paper and gen­erally model the type of relationship faculty and staff should have with stu­dent journalists.

Some departments, however, could be more forthcoming. While there are some individuals in these depart­ments who are willing to share their thoughts, we are disappointed that, generally speaking, the criminal jus­tice department, psychology depart­ment, education department and Leon Hess Business School rarely respond to inquiries for comment. In fact, professors like Dr. Michele Grillo of criminal justice, Dr. Al Caviola of psychology and Professor John Buzza of the Leon Hess Business School is certainly exceptions to this dynamic and perhaps there are others that we failed to list.

Our goal as the school’s newspaper is not to condemn anyone, but merely provide the campus with good infor­mation. If The Outlook takes the time to reach out to you, why wouldn’t you take the time to at least respond that you are not interested? Many of those same people, who ignore requests for comment, tend to be the first ones to complain that their discipline is un­der-represented in the newspaper.

For departments that might feel neglected by the newspaper, we can assure you that we are thrilled to pub­lish stories that discuss achievements, events and issues regarding your dis­ciplines. It would be easier for us to do that on a regular basis, if people in those departments provided the paper with information that we could then pursue and build stories around. Be­cause a department might not be cov­ered regularly is not an indication of a lack of interest on the paper’s part, rather more often than not, it merely indicates that we were unaware of the newsworthy information.

We understand sometimes staff members do not want their opinions in print. However, The Outlook in­vites views from all sides of an issue. As a newspaper, our objective is shar­ing facts and credible opinions.

On a college campus, there is al­ways a story to be found. There are always people who want to talk about it, but the paper having a professional opinion from an administrative staff member or a professor really gives an article more credibility and insight. Students can be great sources but sometimes do not have the practical or life experiences to comment on certain issues and they are usually not professionals in a particular field.

Clearly, The Outlook does not es­cape criticism either. Certainly, some reporters for good or bad reasons might approach a source without as much notice as we would like and as you deserve. The paper makes it a priority to avoid this situation and re­grets when it occurs. We would hope, however, that invited sources try to understand that often journalists have no control when news breaks and are sometimes forced into this unfortu­nate circumstance. We also apologize for overzealous writers who might ask one or two questions too many, but if we are going to make a mistake, we would like it to be that we are too thor­ough as opposed to being too cavalier.

So next time you see that subject line on an email or a voicemail on your phone from The Outlook, we ask that you do not dismiss it. By doing so, you miss out on a wonderful op­portunity to provide good informa­tion to readers who will benefit from it.

Education is what a college envi­ronment is about. So to those mem­bers of the University community that are always there to help us, we thank you for your time and consideration and hope to continue our partnership. To those who would rather not com­ment in the paper, we invite you to join us and open a new world of op­portunity for students and the campus community at large to have a deeper understanding of issues that you may have devoted your life to.