Our View | The role of student publications during social issues

Published by The Rocket, Date: March 4, 2022

Our View is a staff editorial produced collaboratively by the entire Rocket Staff. Any views expressed in the editorial are the opinions of the entire staff. 

To review our editorial policy, which includes our blotter policy, click here.

“BREAKING: Sorority’s virtual poetry event barraged by racist cyber attack.”

SRU stakeholders read this headline on Feb. 17, 2021 as it was posted to our website. The Rocket reported breaking news about a virtual sorority event being zoom-bombed during Black History Month.

This was one of the many stories that promoted important conversations within The Rocket staff about equal, diverse news coverage.

Student media has covered so many monumental social issues in just the past two years, like the Black Lives Matter protests, school shootings, all the way to covering the coronavirus pandemic. Media holds the power to be the place for important conversations. We, as The Rocket, understand that we are a place for these conversations.

Even though Black History Month (BHM) has concluded, it’s still important to amplify Black voices outside of BHM and highlight the importance of equal representation in media. This doesn’t, however, take away from the importance of other social issues. Equal coverage of topics should be a goal for all news organizations.

With The Rocket being one of the main news sources for Slippery Rock, this makes our coverage of social issues, social change and social movements that much more important. Our audience extends beyond the university alone. With a broad target audience, The Rocket strives to cover matters of campus as well as the local community.

The Rocket is aware that we lack diversity within our own staff, as all 14 staff members identify as white. Our lack of diversity is what makes it even more important for us to promote and listen to the voices of people of color and tell stories that are newsworthy as well as inclusive for varying communities. We must listen to these communities and implement changes to better our reporting.

We know that we are reporting and writing about these experiences, not living them.

We acknowledge the power in what we do as Rocket reporters and the privilege that comes with our identities within student media.

We are diligently working toward complete equity and inclusion in our own reporting, as well as diversifying our coverage. We actively seek out new topics to cover, as well as talk to people within the community to see what they want us to talk about.

We want to amplify the voices of our peers, which is one of the reasons why we continually emphasize the importance of the interview process within our staff. We also encourage our readers to write opinion pieces to get their own voices and thoughts out there. We actively reach out to organizations on campus to voice their truths in our opinion section. We want to highlight all voices of this university.

The Rocket has the privilege of having connections and relationships with people across campus and in the community. While we do have the ability to speak for our peers, The Rocket has another level of reporting that interacts with those in positions of power, from organization leaders and official campus personnel, to local law enforcement officers.

The general public doesn’t often have access to these individuals regularly, giving The Rocket a unique opportunity to present opinions on the behalf of these people. This is a privilege that comes with being a part of student media and one that The Rocket staff holds with immense respect.

The Rocket may be one of the main sources of news for Slippery Rock, but it’s important to recognize that many other forms of media exist. The various forms of media surrounding us offer different perspectives, ideals and voices that provide further ideas and opinions. In any aspect of life, it’s crucial to do your own research and form your own opinions.

We’re not perfect, but we strive for professionalism and giving voice to those who are often silenced. We are committed to covering topics of bias and discrimination, not as “token projects,” but as thoughtful and respectful pieces for whom the stories are about.

Even though we have won awards in the past and received praise from our peers for our coverage of this issues, they mean very little if the students of Slippery Rock do not feel ownership in our newspaper. The Rocket is not the newspaper of the staff, but each and every student.


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