Kaylene Kerber – Opinions Columnist
Thank you to the three readers who happen to read my articles. I know it’s probably because you know me in some capacity, but your devotion is still honorable. That’s the problem though: The Gustavian Weekly is an afterthought for many students. How does a newspaper stay relevant in a time with Yik Yak and the Fourth Crown? If students want to know the happenings of the campus they will look at Instagram stories, posters, friends, or in moments of total desperation, to Monday Moments. How can we become more relevant?
I have a few possible ideas. First, we need more student submissions: more art, poems, and puzzles of all disciplines. The Gustavian Weekly could become a platform for academic and creative expression, garnering a reader-base of creatives. Despite Gustavus being a liberal arts college, sometimes passions not related to our major get thrown to the wayside. The Weekly could be a platform to share these more niche hobbies. If you know a lot about the evolution of children’s shoes, have a fascination with the portrayal of cats over the centuries, or you just think that the differing species of potato are “neat,” the Gustavian Weekly could be the place.
Some may argue that Yik Yak, Instagram, or Twitter could also be a place of academic inquiry and cultural excellence. I wouldn’t necessarily argue with their potential to be those things, but I would caution the reader to remember that these sites come with a certain amount of validation which is lacking from the Weekly. This lack of instant-ish gratification can lead to more thoughtful outputs and often contain more accurate information and well-formulated thoughts.
Twitter has likes, retweets or comments, Instagram has likes and comments, and Yik Yak has upvotes and downvotes. These are quantifiable ways to judge the overall popularity or appeal of these posts. We curate a public self in order to see results, a self composed of just the particularly interesting or marketable bits of our true personalities. I believe that the Gustavian Weekly could be a safe space free of the demands of social media as it doesn’t have a system to rank or judge people’s ideas. In addition, nothing is instantaneous, therefore more thought and elaboration can be put into posts that would otherwise take a minute to create and seconds to be accessible to others.
Another possible way to help resurrect a newspaper in 2022 is to respond to possible misinformation that has been spread through social media. In the last few Nobel Conferences, many speakers have brought attention to the echo chambers of the media and how they affect different aspects of our lives. The Gustavian Weekly can take a more nuanced view that is informed and takes into account the concerns that manipulate these rumors from the truth. We can verify and expand upon the information that is already being presented in social media, specifically information pertaining to Gustavus students. It is such a narrow market that the Gustavian Weekly would cement its importance. Who else would debunk rumors or unintentional misinformation created by a group of students from a small liberal arts college in southern Minnesota? It’s not the most attractive job, but I believe that it is an important part of making students more informed about issues. In addition, I hope that the Gustavian Weekly could be the watchdogs of Gustavus. In some ways, we might be taking the place of Rate My Professor, but instead of just professors, all faculty could be evaluated, ensuring that they act justly. There is a Code of Academic Honesty and group project evaluations to keep the students liable, the same should be said of all Gustavus employees. I am assuming that, as any workplace, there are certain rules of conduct, but who enforces them? How many checks and balances do they have and are there enough? I think that the Gustavian Weekly needs to take a deep dive into every department and organization of the college. This relates back to the verification aspect I proposed earlier. My main issue is that everyone’s definition of justice is different. Someone may believe that they are acting with care and justice but the people that are affected by that action may think differently. What is more important: the intention of the action, as Immanuel Kant proposed, or the consequences of those actions, or Utilitarianism, developed by John Stuart Mill? Perhaps we should focus more on the relationship between certain departments, organizations, and students ensuring that the relationships are supportive, caring, and impartial. Regardless, I think that this moral exploration is an important one for the Gustavian Weekly to take. Reporting is social media whereas elaboration, verification, and investigation is an important way to keep the Weekly relevant. Sorry to the three readers for betraying you, this article didn’t fit into my usual silly ramblings about school or entertainment, but I felt this was an important discussion to have. I hope that you can forgive me and next week I promise to continue with our silly little show.