In the earliest versions of “The Outlook,” there was no Opinion section; today, the section is a flourishing staple to the newspaper, popular among writers and readers alike. It’s difficult to envision a time when there wasn’t an established forum for Monmouth’s campus members to share their perspectives and ideas; however, this only underscores how far the paper has come in the last several decades. Before Opinion had its official claim to fame, readers would submit a “Letter to the Editor” if they wanted their opinion published. From short letters to now a full-page section and fan-favorite, the Opinion section is one of the most dynamic elements of “The Outlook,” an ever-changing soundboard that keeps a pulse on important issues raised by students, faculty, and administrators at Monmouth.
Surprisingly, “The Outlook” lacked a formal Opinion section well-after the 1940s and 50s; that’s over 10-20 years after the paper’s first issue in 1933. The absence of an Opinion section meant that Monmouth lacked a voice. Showcasing others’ voices is essential to a newspaper, especially one that is student-run; it adds flavor that is unique from the other sections. This is not to say that other sections are boring; most other sections adhere to strict journalistic guidelines whereas Opinion is flexible and adaptable. Writers of the Opinion section can write about almost anything, allowing each generation to highlight a wide range of topics and perspectives from their time as students on Monmouth’s campus.
The Opinion section is a breeding ground for individuality and growth. It’s empowering for writers to discuss topics they are passionate about, as well as readers to have another outlet of information that’s written by their peers. I not only love when “The Outlook” publishes an opinion article I can relate to, but I also like reading about opinions that differ from my own. The Opinion section is a space for all viewpoints to thrive.
Jordan Giansante, a sophomore criminal justice and homeland security student, said, “Having the Opinion section is essential [to the newspaper] because it provides a platform for diverse perspectives and allows readers to encounter different viewpoints, ultimately contributing to a healthy democracy.”
Adding on to Giansante’s point, the Opinion section helps both writers and readers educate themselves on diverse perspectives, especially when an opinion article is well-researched and argued. When students are more informed, they are better equipped to initiate conversations that challenge their views. If the Opinion section does anything, it promotes and encourages respectful dialogues between individuals of varying ideas and backgrounds.
John Papagni, a senior communication student and former Opinion editor, added, “While the newspaper is a great way to show accuracy and objectivity for any given topic, having the opportunity to use phrases like ‘I feel,’ ‘I believe,’ or ‘I think,’ in an opinion article is a unique way of sharing one’s perspective and sparking impromptu discourse.”
Since the inception of the Opinion section, the newspaper has grown in numbers and popularity; it’s a space that welcomes different ideas, encouraging writer participation, as well as campus interaction. Opinion is home to a wide range of contributing writers, staff writers, and editors, all of whom offer a unique perspective to the paper with every article published. However, more broadly, the Opinion section speaks to all campus members (and beyond) of all walks of life.
Bailey Fredericks, a junior communication student and current Opinion editor, said, “As editor of the Opinion section, I have gained a better understanding of why the Opinion section is so vital. The Opinion section provides students with an outlet to express their views and access creative control that they otherwise don’t have in other sections like news or features.”
It’s important now more than ever for an Opinion section to exist. When I first joined “The Outlook,” I really didn’t know where I fit. The Opinion section has enabled me to not only find my place at the newspaper but my own writer’s voice too. I have found a sense of enjoyment and self-expression that I never thought possible, and I wouldn’t change my experience for the world.