Swarthmore's independent campus newspaper since 1881


Phoenix forum yields feedback

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

You came. You saw. You roasted.

Sort of.

The Phoenix held a forum in Shane Lounge yesterday evening in response to conversations that the editorial board had amongst itself and with members of the wider college community. As we explained in our previous editorial, the Phoenix is making a conscious effort to improve across a number of different areas, including making our paper become and feel like a more inclusive space for all the different voices and experiences that are equally valuable on campus.  We cannot do that without responses and feedback from the campus community.

The aim for the forum was to move our work forward, providing a space for dialogue and discourse to flow freely, and to serve as a valuable learning opportunity for our editorial board. We hoped to understand our weaknesses and our strengths as a publication so that moving forward, we can better serve you, our readership. Though we were only able to connect with a small part of our readership, we came away with substantive recommendations and suggestions that we feel will make our paper a better, more inclusive organization in the coming semesters.

To begin, we want to have an increased number of authentic conversations with the campus community in the future. The limited amount of time we had for this forum did not allow us to receive even close to enough feedback in order for us to improve in the way that we would like to. We envision more regular open meetings and discussions, where any member of the campus community can come and engage with our editors and writers. We feel that this will ensure continued feedback and allow conversations to occur as we face new challenges and grapple with new obstacles in the coming weeks. Just as an institution changes over time, we recognize at the Phoenix that the feedback we need to receive and the conversations we need to be having may change as we progress. In addition, in doing so, we can guarantee that our content will be not only sourced from the minds in our office, but also from the larger Swarthmore community, allowing the gaps our Phoenix staff are unable to fill to be complemented by the ideas and opinions of the community at large. We also hope to engage with more students and recruit a more comprehensive staff of writers with diverse life experiences through this approach, which will further our mission of representing as many perspectives and stories as possible.

As we have previously mentioned, we would like to affirm that we want to work to feature more members of the student body in our paper who have not previously received coverage, giving our readers an opportunity to learn from various aspects of the campus community that may not have taken precedence in the past. In order for us to do so, we ask that you share your voices and your stories with us. You have no obligation to share your perspectives or experiences with us, but we are inviting you to do so, because an organization that claims to represent a community can never hope to succeed at that task without the participation of members of that community.

As we have done for every issue in the past, we will continue publishing all of our articles online on our website (swarthmorephoenix.com). We plan to begin sending emails out on a weekly basis with links to the articles for that week, allowing greater access to our content and providing an online forum for our readers to engage with authors and one another through our comment sections. We also hope to begin distributing our paper in residence halls in the coming weeks, ensuring that no reader has to go too far in order to stay in tune with campus news. We want to establish distribution in some other frequented locations, such as Hobbs and other businesses in Swarthmore.

We also received some feedback that it appears that we lack a clear mission statement or guiding principle that we can adhere to, a standard that we can use to ensure that each of our pieces is uniform in quality and purpose. As an editorial board we plan to convene and establish such a focus for our publication to ensure future consistency.

In addition, we would like to continue to host more outward-facing events beyond just a simple forum. We would like to invite the campus community to get to know us as students and as people as well, because before we are all journalists, we are students, with our own unique perspectives, interests, and stories to share. We anticipate hosting more social and informal events where we can get to know members of the campus community better. We appreciate all those in the community who have already begun working together with us as we move forward as an institution. Our work to become a better, more inclusive paper will continue until we are certain that we are an organization that works to serve all members of the college, fairly, inclusively, and equitably.

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