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The Concordia bubble and its newspaper

Concordia is known for its bubble, an invisible shield that guards the campus from Dragons and bad news. I would like to propose a different definition for the bubble – community. After hours of conversation with reporters and editors from small-town publications at a recent newspaper conference, I am convinced this campus is as much a small town as it is an institution.

This sense of self-sustainment puts The Concordian in a unique position. While larger publications cover the Fargo-Moorhead community and state, no other news service can provide information so close to home. The Concordian is part community bulletin and part watchdog.  In a community like ours, an outlet for this kind of discourse is important.

Recent pushback from the campus calls into question whether we can fulfill our obligation to the community. Rumors have been floating around campus about why Dining Services replaced the black coffee mugs with white ones. A member of The Concordian staff tried to get an answer but was only told the white mugs are temporary. This is not a serious situation. While the white coffee cups are inconveniently small, they have very little impact on our daily lives. The concern here is that even answers to the simplest issues are difficult to acquire. When more difficult issues arise, will The Concordian be in a position to provide necessary information to students, faculty and staff?

It is time to rekindle the relationship between the campus and its publication. Two things need to happen to make this partnership strong. First, the community needs to take an interest in the events and issues that affect this campus. A quick glance at Facebook or Twitter assures me that people do care. However, only 20 of roughly 2,800 students work for The Concordian. It is possible that our reporters have not reached the heart of the issues that face this community. If so, the line of communication is open to students, staff and faculty who can bring these issues to our attention, even if readers just want more LOL cats and Sudoku puzzles.

The second essential part of the contract between publication and readership is willingness to share information. As the story above indicates, disjointed communication between student reporters and sources often challenges our ability to fulfill our obligation to the community. Not all situations are bad. Most sources understand our mission and cooperate fully. Others, however, withhold information without giving a reason. The business school story this week was originally supposed to run with a list of major donations to the project. That information was withheld. On another occasion, a reporter asked for a diagram of the Barry Auditorium, but again, a source did not cooperate.

The Concordia bubble is a wonderful thing. Under this canopy, Cobbers share a kindred spirit and a genuine desire to do good things for the world. Being so close requires a certain level of both sensitivity and transparency. The community can trust that The Concordian staff will remain sensitive to our sources and those affected by the information we publish, but we also depend upon a community that is transparent about the issues that affect us all. Together we can continue to provide both information and entertainment that will enrich our small town.

-Kelsy Johnson, News Editor

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