By Juan R. Garcia
The Mesquite prides itself on being the voice of concern for the student body. The organization, funded by the School of Arts and Sciences and the office of student affairs, works tirelessly to report on issues that affect the entire university. The goal of the student-run media outlet, comprised of 22 students, is to report on behalf of its readers. The Mesquite aims to ask important questions and identify issues that matter to our growth and development.
Now, sometimes it might seem as if The Mesquite, our campus’ sole student media outlet, is singling out a department or organization. That’s where I come in.
You know the old adage: “Communication is a two-way street.” It’s cliché, but it’s true. For if it wasn’t, the pathway between both points would be congested, with no one getting a chance to express themselves freely and fully. When this happens, communication is nothing more than a shouting match with both parties testing to see who can drown the other out.
The Mesquite defines itself as a fair and accurate news source. However, the newsroom is tucked away at Brooks City-Base Campus and far removed from campus life at Main Campus Building, located 10 miles away. Aware that sometimes a misunderstanding (or two) can occur, The Mesquite, like any other news source, is in need of a traffic guard.
This is the job of the public editor. It is my job. I will hold a wholly new position outside of The Mesquite, untethered to one-way criticism. I will serve as an in-house critic, keeping an eye out for any issues or concerns that the student body may have with how The Mesquite reports or handles information. I am here for the readers. I am also in the newsroom, at least twice a week to stay on top of their successes and challenges.
The Mesquite strives to be fair and accurate. The six-member editorial board, tasked with a weekly edition and maintaining a well-organized professional student office, understand challenges of the startup environment. Having been a student reporter myself, I know sometimes there’s sometimes just too much on our plates, leaving other commitments to drag. If it is believed that they actually just sit around drawing names out of a hat for the next slam, always remember, it is never out of malicious intent.
It is dire, as a developing campus, that we all have a clear focus on important issues and this is why I would like to strengthen the relationship between the student-run newspaper and the university as a whole. There are several ways to do this, but the underlying factor to them all is simply to get involved. I urge all members of the Texas A&M-San Antonio community to at least make an effort to become more aware of what is going on around our university. There are always forums and open meetings going on around campus, and I encourage all students to attend at least one per semester.
I understand first-hand how the newsroom functions and can empathize with deadlines, constant fact checking, and the general stress that goes into each story. In the past, I have served as a reporter for The Mesquite, however, as public editor I am no longer required to report, or answer to anyone inside of the newsroom. This affords me the opportunity to view all sides of any issue as objectively as possible, to audit — if you will — The Mesquite for fairness. I will also support The Mesquite when necessary, should it come under fire unfairly.
So as we begin this conversation, I begin with this: The newspaper understands the importance of establishing a clear communication with its readers, and they should continue to hold themselves to high standards and principles. Always remember that although the editors and staff are writing the stories, they’re not doing it for themselves. They are doing it for you, the readers.
With any concerns or issues regarding stories covered by The Mesquite please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.