Letter directly to the editor
Danny McMaster | Tuesday, October 15, 2019
I am writing to you today to talk about something that has been troubling me for some time now: the current state of The Observer.
As I have long said in this column before, The Observer is the only place I go for all of my opinions. Whenever there is a matter of political divide, global unrest or sub-standard dining hall food, I constantly refresh The Observer website until someone is able to tell me what to think.
To date, this system has worked flawlessly. I have been happy, and there has been no need for change. After three years of working in this manner, I decided that I would even take on responsibility and create some of the content that told everyone how to think. Until recently, it had been wildly successful. The Observer had been running like a well-oiled machine, and students everywhere knew what to think about everything as they read the paper cover to cover each morning.
Recently, however, tragedy has struck The Observer. In what was once a harmonious place, with column after column helping students lead better lives, there now there lies a war zone of instability. It’s columnist vs. columnist, editor vs. editor. I know what columns you’re thinking about, and you’re absolutely right: I’m talking about Pizza Pi.
To date, there has been not one, not two, but three Observer pieces all about the new pizza establishment that has more than capably filled in for Reckers. Some of the reviews have been positive. Some have been negative. I’ll admit that this is a personal issue for me, as I took the time to review Pizza Pi myself. My column was overwhelmingly positive, and I still believe that any student who is not exclusively spending their flex points at Pizza Pi has no honor and should be asked to leave campus immediately.
While I can see clearly that there is no possibility that I am wrong on this issue, what are other students supposed to think? Picture a freshman in his or her dorm, hands shaking while holding two copies of The Observer with conflicting opinions. I could see students standing there for hours, weeks even, wrought with indecision as they learn that the only institution they thought could be trusted had failed them.
This problem stems, I think, from our current editors’ failures to have a single unchallenged opinion and agenda. Many a time, these conflicting opinions that I have seen in The Observer are coming from those writing ‘letters to the editor.’ I am told that the writers of these ‘letters to the editor’ did not have to go through Observer staff training and initiation and weren’t required to take a two-week sabbatical in the desert*.
There is simply no focus here anymore. In recent weeks, we have often seen two columns with opposing views, published back-to-back. The Observer today stands as a mishmash of opinion and response columns. How could the readers ever understand what it is trying to tell them? If every column concludes that the writer is completely right and shames those who don’t think as they do, what can we hope to accomplish?
This is why there can be no opposing views in The Observer.
In conclusion, I believe I have found the correct solution and if you disagree, I think it will be necessary for you to leave the Notre Dame community. I believe that The Observer should only allow one opinion on every topic, first-come-first-serve, no backsies. If you have a take, get it in quick because there’s only room for one. Our community should get one opinion and one opinion only, and we should wholeheartedly stand by that opinion going forward.
This would be a perfect strategy for any number of scenarios. A new administration policy allows Lime scooters on campus and a columnist likes it? Build a Lime statue next to the dome. A new, Pizza-Pi-like restaurant is established on Bond Quad and the first columnist dislikes it? Burn it to the ground.
As a result of this, The Observer will likely have to stop taking letters to the editor, as we need to make sure that the first person getting to these stories is taking the adequate preparations necessary for this task.
So that is why today, I am writing a letter directly to the editor, asking him or her to think about the future of The Observer and to make changes. With these changes in place, I believe that this paper can be restored to its former glory.
*While this was also not required for regular columnists, don’t tell me how to prepare for things.
Danny McMaster is a senior business analytics major and has never once been wrong in his entire life. He can be reached at [email protected] or @DanMcMaster14 on Twitter.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.