Student publications are numerous at Miami University, as they are at most colleges across the United States. Working at them allows students of all majors to test their skills, creativity and leadership outside of the classroom. A writer getting their first chance to have something published, or a first time editor managing six or seven writers, is an invaluable experience that cannot be replaced. Student publications breed writers, editors, designers and managers who understand what it will take to survive in media outside their school.
At The Miami Student (TMS), we hold these same experiences close to our hearts, and also try to function as any other newspaper in the United States. TMS truly believes in providing factual, unbiased and interesting news to the Miami community. As students running the paper, we understand our main audience and are proud to represent Miami students through our story telling.
The editorial board would like to invite readers to step in our shoes and learn about exactly what TMS does behind the scenes.
TMS has a distinct process with each and every story published in the paper. The process begins with budgeting, or selecting, stories as a group to go in the next issue. All of the editors discuss the stories together and decide what stories will go in. Following budget, section editors assign stories to their writers. As editors, they use their judgment to match the difficulty of the story to the expertise of the writer. It is then up to the writer to conduct research and interviews for the assignment. Once a story is received and fact-checked by the section editor, it goes through eight rounds of edits before it is sent off to the printer.
Those eight rounds of edits include Section Editors, News Editor and the Editor in Chief fact checking names, positions and quotes to the best of their ability. AP style, grammar and punctuation are also fine-tuned. Despite the hours put into each story, perfection is not always attainable, and mistakes sometimes slip by in the editing process.
At TMS, mistakes are considered unacceptable, but they are a part of life and certainly will always be a part of journalism. Mistakes are never intentional, and there is a strict correction policy at TMS. Editors hold themselves accountable for every story they put their stamp of approval on, and if anything is incorrect, the paper publishes a correction box on that section’s page in the following issue. Being critical of our own work is something TMS embraces.
TMS encourages the Miami community to send letters to the editor about their views on stories and about mistakes they may have found. TMS also encourages the community to contact editors. On every section, the editors’ names and section email is listed. TMS has an open-door policy, as every journalism outlet should.
However, simply not liking or agreeing with a story the paper publishes is not a reason for a correction. Journalism by nature is a watchdog for institutions. TMS is not a public relations firm, and our editors and writers do not necessarily write about topics that will necessarily make people mad or happy. They simply cover topics that they believe are important to the Miami community. TMS does not have to post positive things or negative things. We try our best to post news from all angles, and have no affiliation to any other organization or person.
When it comes to handling writers who work for TMS, editors can only do so much within our deadlines when it comes to sources and fact checking. All editors encourage their writers to record their interviews. If something seems incorrect within a writer’s story, the editors bring it up and double-check the information, but when it comes to direct quotes, editors are not present during the interview. Editors always tell the writers to double-check their notes and to record their interviews, but there is only so much editors can do. However, there has to be a certain level of trust in this job. If editors did not trust their writers, nothing would get accomplished.
Most of those who write for TMS are journalism and English students. Sometimes they are beginner writers with just a year of writing under their belt. Because of this, TMS reserves the right to hold or not publish an article if the editors believe that it is not factual or needs more work. TMS does not have to publish anything from anyone, because the paper engages in journalism and not public relations.
TMS also does not engage in email interviews. Editors stress this because there are many unethical circumstances that can arise by practicing in this type of interviewing. Almost all professional newspapers uphold this standard as well to ensure that journalism is being carried out the correct way.
Essentially, TMS is Miami’s lens, and our team of editors and writers has every intention of providing a fair and unbiased outlook for the community. As students working at this publication, all of us have a sense of pride for our work that is produced here, and strive to serve journalism in a democracy. Again, the board encourages the Miami community at all times to send in story suggestions, write letters to the editor and contact editors because that is what journalism is essentially about. TMS will remain a student publication for years to come, and it will always be filled with students eager to serve journalism, the right way.