Dear Readers,

My name is Yasna Haghdoost, and I am the Thresher Editor in Chief for the 2016-17 academic year. I began my career at the Thresher as a lowly arts and entertainment writer my freshman year, where I recall my very first theater review being brutally eviscerated by our copy editor before it went to print. Since then, I’ve held various editorial positions over the years before beginning my stint as Editor in Chief this summer. Because the Thresher is a blanket tax organization, the student body voted me in last semester, and I’m pleased to say that I won out over such illustrious write-in candidates as “Someone who isn’t super biased,” “SJP” and, of course, “that older Asian man who’s always in Fondy.”

Given the tense political environment we now find ourselves in, I’ve been reflecting on my role as editor, and more broadly about the responsibilities of the press within the communities they seek to inform. As an immigrant and a woman of Middle Eastern descent, I personally feel the brunt of the violent rhetoric slung at certain marginalized communities, rhetoric perpetuated with saddening frequency by media outlets more concerned with ratings than integrity.

We are living in an increasingly polarized world. To that end, most of us (including myself) tend to consume media that reaffirms our worldviews. Whether it’s Huffington Post or Breitbart, MSNBC or Fox News, our newsfeeds and conversations are inundated with messages we want to hear, that assure us our opinions are correct and make it all too easy for us to bask in our own perceived moral superiority while ridiculing those with whom we disagree. To top it all off, the rise of “clickbait” has made it difficult for credible news sources to survive in an environment where readers are more likely to consume stories about Donald Trump’s gaffes or Kim Kardashian’s derriere over in-depth investigations about corporate tax loopholes or the criminal justice system.

I don’t have answers to these nationwide issues, but I do believe the Thresher can strive toward journalistic ideals that seek to inform and illuminate readers, with the help of a Rice readership willing to rise above harmful rhetoric and the inclination toward self-affirmation instead of critical thinking. Over the past few years, the Thresher has expanded its in-depth coverage and investigative pieces, and we plan to continue starting conversations about the many pressing issues our community faces. We remain committed to serving as a forum for intelligent discussion, so we encourage our readers to submit opinion pieces or letters to the editor about the major issues du jour in order to spark dialogue within our community. I invite you to hold me accountable to the journalistic integrity towards which we strive: If you have any questions or concerns about Thresher’s coverage, send me an email at thresher@rice.edu. Alternatively, come say hi to me in person. On a good day, I don’t bite.

Happy reading,

Yasna Haghdoost

Yasna Haghdoost is the Thresher Editor in Chief and a Will Rice College senior