We love Rice. We hope our work this year reflects that.
Each year, past editors in chiefs have penned welcome letters to the Rice community about their goals for the upcoming year. Many of them have urged the community to trust the Thresher in our pursuit of accurate, thorough reporting and storytelling. We enter this year with a similar goal, but we don’t have an ask of our community or our readers. Instead, we are calling on ourselves to reach out to the Rice community as a whole and meet the standards of journalistic integrity that our community deserves and that we expect of ourselves.
As we begin our tenure as editors in chief, we are acutely aware of instances when Thresher coverage attracted the ire of readers and social media commenters. We welcome this criticism; it is both a reminder of how we can improve and a sign of when we’re doing our job right. As the only student-run news publication at Rice, we see ourselves as playing a vital role in facilitating campus discourse. But we understand that trust is earned, not given. So, we are taking steps that we believe will help us earn that trust.
Moving into this semester, we’re investing more time and resources in longer form stories in an effort to more holistically and responsibly report on complex issues that are relevant to our community. Additionally, we are expanding our online coverage to incorporate data journalism and multimedia storytelling to tell more compelling stories.
We are attempting to strengthen our relationship with the Rice community itself. In that spirit, we will be hosting office hours Thursday, Aug. 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Rice Memorial Center’s Ley Conference Room. This is a chance for all members of the Rice community including students, staff and faculty to ask any questions they have about the Thresher as a publication or about our processes and goals. Beyond that, we are hosting monthly “Lunch and Learns” with journalism professionals, to which all graduate and undergraduate students on campus are invited to sign up.
For years, as a part of our staff training, we have asked everyone on the masthead to collectively choose one value that embodies the Thresher’s mission. Without fail, we have selected “trustworthy” each time. We rely on the campus community to trust our integrity even when they don’t agree with the content that we’re publishing. As editors of the Thresher, we love Rice and the values we believe it embodies. Our work in student media is an extension of that love. We wouldn’t do it otherwise.
More from The Rice Thresher
The social media app Fizz made its way to our campus earlier this semester, offering an anonymous discussion platform for exchanging messages and memes amongst Rice students. In recent weeks, antisemitic and racist posts were made by members of our community on this app. It is entirely hateful and dangerously intolerant.
Anyone who walked through the academic quad on Monday encountered the statue of William Marsh Rice visibly covered by sheets of A4 paper that read “习近平下台,” which roughly translates to “Resign Xi Jinping.” Other signs read “No emperor in a republic” and “Not my president.” These signs are part of larger protests happening in mainland China — that are being echoed by Chinese people across the world — in response to nearly three years of aggressive COVID lockdowns across the country.
The words “free speech” will likely elicit groans from Thresher readers. Over the last three years, there have been three articles in the Opinion section bemoaning the need for a “classically liberal” political discourse at Rice. Unfortunately, between their self-righteousness and needless wordiness, they read more like whiny lectures than conversation starters. However, despite their condescension, their existence does suggest something unsettling about not just our campus politics, but politics at large. As the electorates of democracies around the world have become more sharply divided, the way we speak to each other, not just across the aisle but to our similarly minded partisans, has become more accusatory, exclusionary and violent. Put simply: we do not want to talk to each other, and understandably so. It is exhausting, and, more than that, we just don’t seem to know how to.