In the age of social media, we are more connected than ever. We can simply open an app to be connected to our family and friends and consume any news and entertainment we want.
Many news organizations, including The Slate, use social media to promote the content that appears in their publications. Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are great in their ability to share news at a rapid pace. As the news industry shifts its attention from papers to the internet, social media allows organizations to reach audiences locally and worldwide.
While social media is a wonderful tool for sharing information and creating a venue to superficially interact with content, it comes at the demise of interaction within the newspaper/publication.
“What do you mean, Hannah? I can interact with content online by liking, commenting or sharing.”
In that vein, you are right. Social media allows for instant interaction at the click of a button or tap of keys. But it cauterizes deep, meaningful interactions.
For example, The Slate publishes commentaries and editorials in its Opinion section each week. These written pieces are different than those in the News section, as they have opinion in them. The Slate labels opinion-based pieces as “Commentaries.”
This label (aside from the work being located in the Opinion section) acts as a flag to say that the work is not straight news reporting. A commentary provides the writer’s analysis based on his or her own research, experiences, beliefs and biases. Any headline that begins with “Commentary:..” is opinion-based. We label it as such to be transparent with our audience.
With that being said, the opinions in the Opinion section of The Slate are those of the writer. They do not represent The Slate, excluding The Slate Speaks Staff Editorial, which is written after thoughtful discussions at editorial board meetings.
The physical Opinion section in The Slate is meant to be a crossroads for conversation among campus voices. The Slate publishes varying opinions on varying topics. I will tell readers right now — my opinions do not always align with what our staff columnists write.
There is a quote from 18th-century French writer Voltaire that sits behind my desk. It reads, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
I follow Voltaire’s idea in this, as it echoes the freedoms secured in the First Amendment. I encourage all students to read and submit pieces to The Slate’s Opinion section — no matter how much I may agree or disagree with said opinions. The Opinion section is meant to be a collection of campus voices, conversing about one another’s opinions.
In this week’s Opinion section, readers will find a response to a columnist’s piece from a previous edition. It is my hope that students read and respond to each other’s work. This give-and-take, in the marketplace of ideas offers readers the opportunity to develop, strengthen or challenge their own beliefs.
This marketplace of ideas is lost in the social media age because responding on social media can provide instant gratification at the expense of thoughtful and reasoned discourse. It is so easy for users to interact with content on social media, which means there are fewer submitted, published responses in the paper.
It takes more time and effort to write a 400 to 500-word response and send it in along with a headshot photo to potentially be published in the paper. It is much easier to respond to something online or to simply hit an “angry face” reaction on the post. However, the time and effort that it takes to write that 400-word response is time and effort that allows us to think through our response rather than just reacting on emotion alone.
SU students, if you see something you agree or disagree with in the Opinion section, submit a commentary. If there’s something not being talked about, write about it. SU faculty, administrators and alumni, you are also welcome to write a “Letter to the Editor,” for which parameters are detailed at the bottom of Page B1.
The Opinion section is meant to be filled with various ideas, which some may consider “controversial.” The Slate publishes these submissions because they are a part of the marketplace of ideas. When these ideas are exiled, it forces the writer and readers of the “controversial” content to take their ideas to websites and publications where their opinions can be insulated and reinforced. There is no exposure to “the other side,” where other ideas or beliefs can be introduced.
In the age of social media, consider doing more than just liking, commenting or sharing. If you feel impassioned about something, consider writing and submitting a piece to your local newspaper. Start or continue a conversation and keep the marketplace of ideas thriving.