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EDITORIAL: In the name of transparency

Observer Editorial Board | Friday, November 3, 2006

It’s not easy to put together – and certainly not easy to finance – a typically 24-page paper, five days a week. Especially as a group of students juggling full course loads, Interhall games, job applications and, of course, social lives.

That’s part of the reason The Observer isn’t perfect – far from perfect, even.

But it’s no excuse, and it’s not meant to be. We’ve come far since 1966, but we have an admittedly long way to go – and given all the recent talk about transparency of newsroom operations, a concept that’s been stressed at most professional newspapers, it seems appropriate to outline our shortcomings and our goals.

u More investigative reporting. As the student-run newspaper serving the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s communities, it’s our job to hold decision makers accountable. While that requires a significant amount of time and effort, it’s something we will continue to ask our reporters to do.

u More contextual reporting. Whenever logical and feasible, we try to write “bigger-picture” pieces to put significant events into a larger context for the campus communities. When we do those pieces, our reporting is generally thorough and insightful. But we must strive to do more.

u More presentable product. The Observer could improve its layout, better use photos and graphics and, yes, make fewer copy-editing errors. We’re working on that.

u Insistence on timeliness. As a five-day-a-week paper, there’s no excuse for being late on a story. But that happens – and we have to fix it. We also hope to better use our Web site for breaking or weekend news and extra photos that don’t fit in the print edition.

u Relevance to our readers. The Observer serves the entire Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s communities – and that includes students, graduate students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and parents. That’s a lot of people, but people who all deserve the specialized coverage that only a campus newspaper can provide. While we pursue stories important to our entire readership, we also try not to overlook events important to a smaller group of people. That can be tough to balance, but we always weigh those decisions, and will continue to do so.

The Observer is constantly changing, constantly improving – and there’s no better evidence of that than looking back on the past 40 years.

And while the next 40 won’t be perfect, we can promise one thing.

They’ll be better.