Letter from the Editor: The Baro must uplift minority voices, strengthen relationships, serve the community

This photo was taken on March 15, 2020. We Have Work To Do aims to raise awareness around campus with branded buttons and stickers. Their message is a reminder that there is still work to be done to support and uplift minoritized community members.

Jaycee Kalama, Incoming Editor-in-Chief

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the COVID-19 pandemic and Oregon State University’s development of an in-house police force, news media—including The Daily Barometer—plays an overwhelmingly important role in educating and informing the public. But what is equally as important is that the media regains its credibility, as it has a long-standing history of wronging minorities and perpetuating systemic injustices, and has broken the trust of so many people.

As journalists, we have a duty to report the truth and nothing but the truth, both objectively and factually. But there is something we can do to be better—and that is to become more aware and critical of the voices and perspectives we are and are not highlighting in our reporting. 

I know that people are hesitant about what they hear when it comes from media outlets. News should leave people feeling informed and educated, it should prepare those people to inform and educate others. News should allow individuals to formulate their own opinions and beliefs based on the facts given to them. That being said, news should not distort someone’s reality or persuade in any way. The public deserves to be able to not only trust their main source of news, but also feel that their identity is justly represented in the media as well, and that is why it is so incredibly important to me that the Baro can be that trustworthy source for our readers.

From the moment I joined the Orange Media Network organization, my editors, advisors and peers emphasized the importance of elevating the diverse voices in my community—and so I have made it my personal goal, not only as the incoming editor-in-chief, but as a former news reporter, copy editor and news editor, that The Baro’s news coverage is diverse, truthful and equitable. 

This is not a new goal—this is something that I have always prioritized. This goal has been ingrained in me as both a journalist and a human being—and trust me when I say that OMN strives to ingrain this into every employee who walks through its halls. 

When making my editor-in-chief presentation for the 2020-21 OMN student-leader elections, I thought to myself, ‘what is the biggest improvement The Daily Barometer can make?’— and so I typed in big letters: Build Relationships. 

The need for media to rebuild its relationships with diverse communities does not exclude The Barometer, in fact, The Baro too has burnt bridges in the past. I want The Barometer to mend those bridges—to build stronger relationships with cultural centers and the diverse voices in the community, with Oregon State University administration, with our readers and within our very own team.

I was once asked if I want to use my position as editor-in-chief to speak out, voice my opinions and make change. My answer was not just a simple yes or no, there is so much more to it. Of course I want to use my privilege to speak out and incite change, but I am not just here to amplify my own voice—I am here to provide a platform to others in my community to speak on their experiences, their concerns, their achievements, their stories. Bottom line: I am here to better my community, thus bettering this organization. The Baro is a community service, everything that we do, we do to inform and educate our readers. 

There are Corvallis, Ore. community members who have faced discrimination and instituational racism; there are Corvallis community members who have faced hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic; there are OSU community members who worry about policing and gun control on campus; and there are still community members whose voices need amplification. This single fact informs my desire to make journalism more diverse and responsive to the communities we serve. 

People often attribute The Barometer’s mistakes to us being student journalists, but I hold this publication to high, professional standards—and I hope that everyone else does too. Of course, we are human and we are learning along with everyone else, but it is my hope that you, the public, holds us accountable—holds me accountable as The Baro’s leader. Inform us when we’ve missed an important perspective, did not cover a topic you believe should have been covered, or simply made a spelling error—please let us know when we’ve made a mistake.

The Baro’s editorial staff aims to directly address every concern that crosses our paths. Contact me directly at [email protected] to voice any concerns you may have, or if you would just like to start a discussion.

I am beyond humbled to be stepping into this position, and I look forward to meeting new people, learning new things, and most importantly, making sure my community feels heard.

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