First Writes: A Letter from the Editors-in-Chief

Kim Sommers and Jamie Soukup

Welcome back everyone! We hope that the beginnings of your semesters have been going well and that you have been settling in to your routines. As much as we all enjoy the excitement of the first weeks of school: with switching classes, all-campus parties, and Greek rushing: it certainly can get a little tiring. Here at The Pioneer, we have been very busy reviewing policies and preparing for our much awaited first issue. To start this inaugural editorial off, we’d like to say congratulations and many thanks to our entire team who contributed to this issue and everyone else who supported us as we were figuring out the ropes.

As Pioneer Editors-in-Chief this semester, one of our biggest goals is to overcome the reputation that has surrounded this newspaper in the past. We are sure that some of you reading this feel as though you have been misquoted or misrepresented in The Pioneer, and for that we apologize. We hope that the Whitman community will give us the opportunity to build the confidence and trust that is essential between a newspaper and its readership. While we promise you that providing quality, accurate news is our priority, we hope that you will understand when mistakes occur, as they undoubtedly will given that we are a student-run newspaper with limited resources. However, to that extent, please let us know when we make mistakes, so we can fix them and avoid repeating them in the future. The Pioneer has been and will continue to strive for the highest journalistic integrity, so please help us achieve our goals.

We want The Pioneer to be something that each member of the student body, faculty, administration and alumni can pick up and read with pride: pride because Whitman students have independently researched, written, designed and produced this newspaper, primarily for their sake.

While we improve The Pioneer’s quality and integrity over time, we are not hoping to avoid controversy. In fact, in some ways, one of the goals of a newspaper is to promote it, by putting issues on the table and in the hands of readers that they care about deeply, that affect them in their day-to-day lives. The Pioneer will strive to promote controversy and discussion in an informed, respectful manner, and not in a way that is unnecessarily hurtful or slanderous. To do so, The Pioneer will publish a weekly Board Editorial. These editorials, as described in our editorial policy, will be opinion pieces designed to promote community discussion, that reflect the views of The Pioneer, and not necessarily the views of each individual associated with the newspaper. The Editorial Board will gather weekly to choose the topic and discuss opinions for the Board Editorial. We hope that the Board Editorial will spark discussion and focus attention on issues The Pioneer deems important. The Pioneer welcomes letters to the editor or any opinion pieces with conflicting views.

We also hope to strengthen our readership. We want all Whitman affiliates: students, faculty, alumni, staff, and community members: to be engaged with The Pioneer and view it as reliable news source. While our primary audience is Whitman students, we want to serve the extended Whitman community as well.

Part of the effort to improve The Pioneer involves setting attainable goals for each area of the newspaper. Each editor has outlined a mission statement for their area of oversight, including the following sections:

This semester the News page will strive to responsibly report on anything that happens on campus or stirs student reaction. In dealing with all Whitman staff, students, faculty, alumni, parents and community members the News page’s goals are professionalism, efficiency, and precision. The number one priority is to provide the reader with accurate, informative, and interesting news while maintaining the highest level of journalistic ethic.

The Opinions section will aim to include more opinions from people other than the regular staff columnists. The Pioneer is supposed to be a mouthpiece through which all Whitman students can make their voices heard. To limit this privilege to our own staff would be contrary to everything that we stand for.

This semester, the Sports section has four overarching goals. First, it will have more news related articles that cover specific sporting events. Second, the sports editor plans to continue publishing at least one preview for each team so every athlete gets equal respect. In addition, the Sports page is aiming to maintain sports columns this year, and to publish the results for each game Whitman competes in during the previous week, along with the schedule for the upcoming week. This will let people know how Whitman teams are doing compared to the rest of the Northwest Conference.

The goal of the Community section is to increase awareness about the Northwest and Walla Walla community events, issues, and news within the Whitman community. In doing so, the page will strive to promote dialogue and greater mutual understanding between Whitman and its surrounding community on issues that concern both parties.

The goal of the Outdoors section is to create a balance of articles about environmental politics and the outdoors. The page will feature a recurring segment of outdoor trips of Whitman students and welcomes student submissions.

The Features section aims to give readers a mix of light-hearted food for thought along with serious issues we should all be thinking about. The section will be based around input, surveys and reports it receives from the entire community.

The goal for the Politics page is to inspire activism and debate by informing the Whitman community about local, campus and national political issues. The politics section will focus on mining our thriving campus and community political life, and reporting not just on feelings, but also actions and events.

The Life section will provide students the chance to express themselves creatively in ways that might not fit into other sections. The focus of the section is not on breaking news; rather, we include columns and features on a diverse range of topics.

Last, but certainly not least, the Humor page’s mission is to provide consistently humorous content for The Pioneer, without “dumbing down” humor to the least common denominator The objective of Humor is to respect the intellects of Whitman students, faculty and staff providing jokes, articles and pictures intended to appeal to a broad range of comedic tastes.

Please keep your eye on The Pioneer’s progress towards these objectives. Thank you in advance for your support of our efforts. To our staff: thanks for getting out our first issue: keep up the good work! To our readers: thank you for giving us a chance to be part of your weekly lives. And if you have any ideas for content, improvements or complaints please contact any members of the Editorial Board.