Letter to the Editor: New Publication “The Secession” needs to define itself

Letter to the Editor


It’s an ambitious and difficult process to begin a new publication.   Since I respect that the Editors of The Secession are making the tremendous effort, I’ve submitted this to both The Secession and The Pio. Since I question part of how their effort is being spent, I wrote this response in the first place.

I’ve been interested in The Secession since I first saw their posters and have had a lot of questions.

When I first asked around, I was told by multiple sources involved that the initial impetus for creating the publication was as an opposition to alleged censorship experienced on The Pioneer.   The mission was explained to me as a sort of “cultural commentary,” an exercise in “alternative journalism” with art and music, founded out of a need to challenge The Pioneer.   As such, I had expected to read news, and I was excited that alternative news was finally being offered.   However, when I read The Secession 1.1 I didn’t find any news; instead, I found a lot of funny pieces, articles about music, and a few pieces that seemed borne out of opposition for the sake of opposition.

An even bigger inconsistency was that the issue didn’t have the one article that I had anticipated and that I would expect from a publication that names itself The Secession, the one article that would have provide the proposed thematic axis around which the rest of the press could have revolved around: what had been censored?

According to a ‘Sec’ Editor that I asked about it, the goals of The Sec have (perhaps) changed (in part) from the original idea of Pio-opposition and alternative journalism to place greater emphasis on the “cultural commentary” idea, but the new mission isn’t fully articulated yet.   I feel like that should have come first, as hard a step as it is.   Without a unique mission like the first I was led to expect, that of anti-Pio and alternative journalism, The Secession leaves itself vulnerable to some major criticisms.

Foremost of my criticisms given the lack of attention to censorship or news is that many of the pieces in The Sec 1.1 could have had a sound home in the other three publications that exist here. And yet the vast majority of the contributors to The Secession have not participated actively in those publications either as contributors or as staffers.   For example quarterlife, which has been trying to solicit all kinds of writing specifically including “alternative journalism” and “creative nonfiction” (whitman.edu/quarterlife/submit) for years without any such submission, has received scant opportunity to benefit directly from the feedback or contributions of most of these Secessionists who posit in “Letter to a Moral Citizen” that they have not had sufficient venues for their voices and creative output.   Before opposing or seceding, I would expect people to try to participate; that’s the most constructive way to bring about real and lasting change.

I feel that unless The Secession articulates a focus more distinct from preexisting publications that can fill a real void on the campus, it risks being an object of excessive suspicion and it cannot live up either to its enormous potential as a very frequently published press nor to what we who anticipated its release were anticipating with excitement.

I look forward to reading its next issue, and I hope that it has some news and, more importantly, some clarifications.

– Anastasia Zamkinos ’10