Our View | We are The Rocket

Published by The Rocket, Date: November 10, 2021
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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.


1,736.

Since its founding in 1934, The Rocket has published 1,736 issues. This issue marks 1,737.

While it is not a grand milestone, it shows that every issue, every year, Slippery Rock students have stepped up to report the campus and community news.

These students work tirelessly to provide Slippery Rock with the information needed to navigate their daily lives and know how those in power wield it. Today, the students who make up the staff of The Rocket continue that legacy.

Student press freedom is a right but also a privilege because the range of the medium in which we reach the campus community can be wide. We are thankful and proud to have this platform and be the voice of the campus and community, and we intend to carry out The Rocket’s legacy. After all, The Rocket is Slippery Rock’s oldest news source that’s dedicated solely to covering the community, alongside other student media like WSRU-TV and WSRU 88.1 FM.

The Rocket also stands independently from Slippery Rock University as a student-run newspaper. Delivering content to the community since its inception, everything is produced by students, for students, faculty, administration and the community. We are not funded through the university or the communication department, but rather the Slippery Rock Student Government Association (SRSGA).

Just like any other student organization, our faculty advisor can only advise us and give us suggestions regarding our content, but we execute the content. We make the decisions. The editor-in-chief has the final say for anything Rocket-related, with the input of the other 13 staff members.

Our stories come from our editors who look at what is going on around campus with a skeptic’s eye. We are the storytellers for the community.

The organization provides information to its audience, while doubling as an outlet for students to practice journalism at a level beyond what they would normally carry out in the classroom.

The Rocket is committed to accurate, fair news gathering and fully researching topics through interviews and old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting. Journalistic and ethical integrity is at the forefront of our minds as practicing journalists.

Our stories strive to give a voice to the voiceless and cover events and topics that students on campus want to read. We focus on covering news that is relevant and engaging to our target audience. We want our readers to know that we are always listening to feedback and adapting accordingly.

But as an organization that routinely asks institutions to be transparent, it’s important to be transparent as well with our readers.

Depending on the story, reporting may take a little longer than the event itself, such as recapping a football game or SRSGA meeting. More in-depth pieces can take up to a week to gather the necessary facts to tell a story. Across campus, reporters knock on doors, talk with students and community members, gather documents and attend events.

Our most recent in-depth piece looked at the university’s decision about the Rock Life Program. Over the course of five days, The Rocket staff talked to more than 15 individuals involved with the decision or affected by it, university administration officials in their offices and on the phone, as well as requested finance documents in-person and through records requests.

This isn’t something new for The Rocket, just standard practices of reporting that we have learned from our professors, adviser and those in the business of news. We do this to provide good, accurate and clear information to our audience.

This dedication to the news gathering process has lead The Rocket to be one of the first to cover breaking stories, such as racially motivated Zoom bombings and students’ reactions, the clarifying with the university about where COVID-19 tests were being processed and the cancellation of fall and winter sports during the fall 2020 semester.

Even with all the great reporting we have done, we are still humans and student journalists learning the craft. When readers and members of the hockey club said they thought our coverage of the organization‘s suspension was lacking all the facts, we listened and reported a follow-up story to get their side of the story three weeks later.

In allowing the public to be heard in a public forum, even providing them anonymity when necessary, we have built a trust with the reader, which is something we value.

The only area of The Rocket where personal thoughts and feelings of the staff may be shared is in the opinion section. The staff editorial, which is based off of the whole opinion of the staff, is the only section where the staff’s voices are heard loud and clear and an opinion is specifically stated.

While letters to the editor can provide a way for the campus community to bring issues to light, they are also a great way for us to hear from our readers as well. Any student is able to contribute to any section of The Rocket, putting their foot in the door of journalistic writing by covering news around campus. The Rocket is always accepting letters to the editor and we encourage students to take advantage of this. Whether our coverage has been exemplary or lacking, we’re here to listen.

For students, The Rocket is not only a news outlet and source of media, it offers an opportunity for voices to be heard.

The Rocket assures its readers that it will keep producing honest reporting. Even through a pandemic with unprecedented circumstances, we continued to deliver on our promise to the campus and the community. No matter what happens, we’ll be here doing what we do best: reporting the news.

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