Letter from the Opinion Editor: Let’s use this section to tell nuanced, lived experiences

Yvonne Kim, Opinion Editor

After having spent all of my time at The Daily solely as a news reporter, I approach my next 10 weeks as opinion editor with simultaneous excitement and apprehension. I have long expected to join the opinion desk to bridge my loves of journalism and creative writing, and throughout my time at this publication I have read our columns with both interest and skepticism, knowing that they provide something the other pages of our paper cannot: they make journalism a two-way street and illuminate the diversity of our readership.

Conversations like those that happen through Opinion ultimately need to move beyond words and dig into lived experiences. Written perspectives should not take away space from people who can speak for themselves. Opinion can easily become an echo chamber for college students to discuss buzzword topics — safe spaces, cultural appropriation, feminism, to name a few — and although these are relevant, I question the limits of such dialogue. The same voices constantly reverberate. It is my responsibility to continue my job as a journalist, seeking out nuance and experience on campus, but now with the goal of amplifying those voices instead of reporting on them. There is a stark disparity between the conversations I hear around me everyday and those I see on paper, and my greatest goal this quarter is to bridge that gap and make sure as many columns as possible resonate with Northwestern students.

That being said, plenty of individuals and groups have expressed discomfort with The Daily — and with reasonable cause. My goal is to work on undoing and preventing this to the best of my ability. Again I think back to our managing editor Mariana Alfaro’s column about minority journalists: spaces like the newsroom can be uncomfortable even for those who work here, myself included, for reasons often hard to verbalize. But The Daily is a tool available to us, and for those of us who are willing and able, we work with what we have. Our presence and work themselves are important, and the experiences we share can have so much more impact than hypothetical thought.

I joke about how great it will be not to report for an entire quarter, but there is truth to this enthusiasm. It has been both challenging and eye-opening to write about our school in light of events like the presidential election and the termination of counseling at the Women’s Center, but despite my love for news, I know there is more to be expressed. Sometimes I don’t want to talk to sources about real-life events that shake up our campus; rather, I encourage the diversity I know exists around me to speak for itself.

I ended up on Opinion sooner than I had anticipated, but I’m excited to bring what I’ve learned during my time here, both about this campus and our paper, to a more human side of storytelling. This section holds a unique position as simultaneously part of and separate from a newspaper, and it is exactly this liminality that is so conducive to greater engagement. I don’t think Opinion has to change what it’s doing — it has been and will continue to be a place for students to voice their thoughts — but as editor it is my goal to constantly question and improve the efficacy of our approaches in doing so.

Yvonne Kim is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be contacted at [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members at The Daily Northwestern.