OPINION: We’re getting better, for you


Members of The Sunflower show off their “Best of Show” awards with Laura Widmer, executive director of Associated Collegiate Press.

Over the weekend, several of The Sunflower’s editors were given the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for the 2019 Fall National College Media Convention.

The convention is hosted by the Associated Collegiate Press and the College Media Association. With over 275 different sessions, several notable keynote speakers from the journalism industry and a convention location that is mere walking distance from the White House — this may have been the best convention held so far, according to some of the editors who’ve attended in the past.

I would be inclined to agree, even if I’d never attended before. Not only was the convention itself extremely educational and diverse, the setting provided the perfect context for why journalists do what we do.

We got to hear from Marty Baron, former editor for The Boston Globe, which earned a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for investigating and reporting on abuse swept under the rug by the Catholic Church. The coverage also was adapted into a movie, “Spotlight.” We also got to listen to an editor and reporter speak from the Capital Gazette, a local newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, that lost five employees in a mass shooting and then immediately turned around to report on it, earning them a Person of the Year recognition by TIME Magazine.

Each speaker was extraordinarily impactful in their own ways, and solidified in our heads and hearts something we’ve known the whole time: the necessity and importance of a free and open press, no matter what risk may come with upholding the rights that come with it.

In a time where the federal government, members of the public and sometimes even members of the press will criticize journalists and publications for being biased or “fake,” we at The Sunflower and every other college newspaper have only one goal in mind: telling the complete truth — no matter how hard or uncomfortable that may be.

We can and will make mistakes. To say that we are completely infallible in our reporting would be misleading and it would only bolster claims that journalists are self-righteous and arrogant. We try our best to do our due diligence with every story, but sometimes a mistake will slip through the cracks, and we appreciate every person who has spoken up to point them out. It shows us that you’re reading, and reading carefully.

A staple of any national convention is the awards ceremony. While no publication’s main goal should be to acquire as many awards as possible, something as small as a certificate or a trophy tells a person or an organization that they are accomplishing something great. Something greater than all the other greatness being created at the same time. The award does not drive us, but it does give us validation.

The Sunflower is proud of awards it received at this year’s convention. This is only the second year where it has been nominated for the Pacemaker by ACP and CMA, and this year it’s taking home several placements for several recognitions.

While I feel that The Sunflower has been consistently doing great work since I’ve been attending WSU, the amount of acknowledgement shown by these two national organizations prove that it is still getting better, to the benefit of the students.

I am proud to say that I get to serve as the opinion editor for this paper because every single person working for it is also proud. We have an ongoing mission to deliver local news to the students of this campus, and it is the drive of every single reporter, photographer and editor that keeps that mission going.

There will continue to be mistakes, slip-ups and oversights. We probably won’t ever be able to cover everything that happens on campus or in Wichita, but we will always try — try to deliver this public service to every student, staff member and alumnus.

Not because we want to. Because we have to.