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Papers give alternative news sources

Brian McKenzie | Friday, December 7, 2007

Common Sense and The Irish Rover provide students articles on different topics and with different styles than The Observer, said staffers at the two publications.

“Common Sense is a place where you can publish research-based articles that are either too long to print in something like The Observer or too liberal for a publication like The Rover,” said senior Jacqueline Collins, a member of Common Sense’s editorial board.

The founder of Common Sense, political science professor Peter Walsh, said The Observer reports on a wide range of current issues.

“But Common Sense has always been more focused on methods of justice, social justice and the common good,” he said. “We have a narrower focus, but one that’s very important for the campus.”

Senior Molly Hayes, Common Sense’s editor-in-chief, said the publication has a circulation of 3,000 copies and published around once a month. Common Sense’s objective, she said, was to “provide a more humanitarian perspective on the news.”

“At ND, sometimes we forget that Catholicism and conservatism aren’t synonymous,” she said.

Common Sense’s articles draw on each of the seven elements of Catholic social teaching, she said, but submissions are not exclusively religious.

She said Common Sense is Notre Dame’s “only publication to include work from faculty, alumni, graduate and undergraduate students.”

The theme of the November issue of Common Sense was immigration.

“Given the immigration forum, we felt that it would be appropriate to have an immigration-themed issue,” she said.

In addition to papers, Common Sense includes art, reflections and poetry, she said.

Junior Michael Angulo, a contributor to Common Sense, said it “provides a forum for progressive, liberal students engaged in global issues, whether their papers are rather formal and academic or more editorially focused.”

Following a trip to El Salvador, Angulo is writing a paper on water privatization there.

“I think it’s a pretty important way of looking at globalization but not a lot of people know about it,” he said. “Common Sense seemed like the best way to get published.”

He considered the Journal of Undergraduate Research (JUR).

But, he said, “my paper wasn’t intensively researched, at least not in the same way as the JUR would want.”

“It was more like what you’d expect from an academic activist,” he said.

He said he conducted some of his research by surveying 60 high school students. That provided “a more interesting outlook on the situation,” he said.

“They aren’t as jaded, and they don’t have much of a view of international political economy,” he said. “There’s still a sense that things can change.”

Hayes said Angulo’s article was “ideal for Common Sense.”

“It brought a topic to light that hasn’t been well addressed by the media, and did so in an insightful and personal way,” she said.

Senior Matt Smith, the editor-in-chief of The Rover, said The Rover’s niche is to cover Catholic issues on campus.

“There’s a misconception that The Rover and The Observer are these bitter enemies and we’re not,” he said. “Any two organizations will have members that disagree, sometimes passionately, and that doesn’t mean the organizations are at odds.

“The Rover complements – not necessarily competes with – The Observer,” Smith said. “We respect the service The Observer provides. We aren’t a daily paper and we don’t aspire to be one.”

He said the paper is concerned about the University’s focus on academic rankings.

“The motif I’ve observed is that we’ve tried year after year to improve our reputation and doing so requires conforming to certain standards like ideas of academic freedom and intellectual diversity that are defined by our peer institutions or ‘aspirational peers,'” Smith said. “That’s pernicious because as the premier Catholic university in the world, we are precisely that diverse element that these peers claim to desire, and yet it’s precisely that which the conventional wisdom would have us downplay to move up in the rankings.”