Letter from the News Editor: Why we report

I confess: This letter was difficult for me to write. It is extremely rare for the Daily to publish a letter from the executive news editor, especially so in our final issue of the year. The turbulence of this semester, however, prompts me to break from this precedent.

Many developments followed University President Anthony Monaco’s evening announcement on March 10, which have undoubtedly forged themselves a place in my memory for years to come. I won’t recall these in detail; instead, I’d like to discuss the remarkable and persistent team of student-journalists who reported that news.

They did not pause when the Daily’s last regular issue of the semester printed on March 12, did not rest when students began to evacuate a shuttering campus and did not stop when they began online-only classes on March 25 amid a coronavirus pandemic. Instead, they reported the news.

Unclear about their academic standing as faculty weighed modifying pass/fail policies, challenged by virtual exams and Zoom lectures and uncertain about when they might return to their friends and home on the Hill, they nevertheless reported the news.

Difficulties facing Jumbos everywhere, they too confronted layoffs of friends and family, loved ones in and out of the hospital and social isolation amplified by mandated physical distancing. Despite easier options, they reported the news.

I am not making a claim to heroism here — we may miss deadlines, make mistakes in editing and judgement or fail to rise to the demanding (and absolutely warranted) expectations the Tufts community has for us. We admit our mistakes when they happen and swiftly correct them in our unwavering pursuit of the truth. But we are not heroes and do not seek that praise. 

What then motivated these journalists to continue on? Seeing one’s own byline printed on front-page, above-the-fold news is usually quite gratifying, and these journalists have certainly grown in the process. Those are not sufficient reasons, however.

They carried on because they understood that the news is a public good from which our whole community is free to benefit and one which someone must provide. They recognized that fostering a strong community predicated on active citizenship — which Tufts rightly espouses as its ethos — demands timely and accurate reporting as a prerequisite. They overcame pandemic-wrought turmoil to continue supplying an essential service to our community.

That is why they reported the news. I hope you understand why I find it to be so inspiring, whether you consider yourself a regular reader of the Daily or are just now discovering your first issue. They will not ask much of you either, barring one notable exception.

If you believe that active citizenship is a virtue foundational to the Tufts community, as I do, these journalists will make only one request: read the news, which is your right as well as your responsibility. Nothing can extinguish the vitality of a community that embraces this charge — not even a pandemic.

Leading the Daily’s news department these past six months has been as much a challenge as it was an honor — even more so since March 10. I estimate that in that time I’ve written and edited more than 100,000 words, and these are the last of them. May they prove as meaningful to you as they have been to me.

Sincerely, 

Robert Kaplan
Executive News Editor, The Tufts Daily


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