Three times a week for the past 50 years, worn, read Spectrums have papered the university's lecture halls after giving students something to read during Dr. Boring's painful lecture. The newspaper is, and for half a century has been, UB students' primary source of information regarding activity within the UB community.
Each year, as new staff members assume responsibility for the paper, they are forced to explore what The Spectrum is, and what they hope to accomplish by writing and distributing it. This year, our goal is to provide the students and staff with sound, ethical reporting that addresses major issues and events related to the University at Buffalo. We are working to improve the breadth and depth of our coverage.
The Spectrum serves as a mirror for the UB community, providing it with the means for self-examination. Its honest reporting keeps everybody in check.
Internally, The Spectrum serves as a viewfinder through which the university's diverse sectors can learn about one another. It is a neutral, third-party means of communication between the student body, faculty and administration. For example, students in the School of Management are kept abreast of events in the Physics Student Association, and the administration learns student and faculty responses to their policy changes.
Our journalistic integrity is ensured by financial independence. Most funding is derived from advertising revenue supplemented by a $1 annual student subscription fee, which students vote to approve every four years.
This sets The Spectrum apart from all other UB publications, including Generation magazine, the UB Reporter and Visions. The Spectrum does not answer to the administration, the Student Association or any entity other than the students and its editors. We are an objective, independent party in university affairs. We print the truth, to the best of our ability, free from obligation and untainted by partiality.
The staff is comprised of undergraduate students. In other words, that kid you see dozing off in Knox or partying on Main Street may also be working on an article for Friday's issue.
The Spectrum is also a 300-level English class. Our editors instruct undergraduates, who often have little or no experience in news writing, on the basic principles of journalism, including ethics, methods of reporting, and writing, as well as the currents of university affairs.
We strongly emphasize professionalism in reporting, but we are, too, are learning. Sometimes when we solicit administrators or faculty members for their input, they refuse to speak to us because they were misquoted in a previous article.
But, bear in mind, this does not mean the error will be repeated. Every year, the paper is produced by an entirely new staff, and every semester we find ourselves working with the material generated by novice reporters.
Although our mistakes sometimes make it to print, they do not go unnoticed. We learn from them, and continually strive to improve. The Spectrum is a great place for students to get their first chance at being published, mistakes and all.
It is also worth mentioning that The Spectrum is a local publication. We do not have the resources - financial or personnel - to take us to places such as New York City or Washington, D.C. In the event an important national issue arises, like the terrorist attacks, we publish articles from a news wire service, such as the Washington Post-Los Angeles Times, that sells publication rights to its copy. This is standard practice in the newspaper industry. Every professional paper, even The New York Times, prints articles from a wire service if reporters are not available to provide first-hand information.
We believe the best way to bring you the news is to write it in an objective, unbiased manner. But, for those who want to hear the voice of The Spectrum staff, the editorial section projects it loud and clear.
Page four contains the editorials. These are brief arguments developed in accordance with the majority opinion of the The Spectrum's editorial board. That is why they do not carry bylines; an editorial expresses the viewpoints of the entire editorial staff. Usually, these are responses to controversial university issues, but also tackle pressing national and local issues, such as the recent terrorist attacks and casino gambling in Buffalo.
On page five we print op-eds, or "opposite editorials." People complain that the op-eds often lack thorough research and present only one side of the issue, often in an inflammatory manner. This is true.
But, that is exactly what they are supposed to do. Op-eds are free space allotted to anyone from Spectrum editors to the general public for the unrestrained expression of their opinions. We do not edit these pieces, and they are not in any way representative of the editorial board's views.
And, if you happen not to agree with something we print, you are always welcome to send a letter to our Feedback column.
The Spectrum has been criticized for having a tendency to capitalize on negative stories while disregarding positive events. We aim to report occurrences that have great impact on student life at UB, whether positive or negative.
And while we are always searching for a hot tip, sometimes we simply do not hear about events until after they have passed. We are limited in number, and can effectively cover only what our writers are made aware of. So, if you think you have news fit to print, please, let us know. By doing so, you will ensure our coverage reflects the students' interests.
As in past years, we will undoubtedly make mistakes. But, we will strive, issue after issue, week after week, to deliver the highest quality student newspaper we can to the UB campus.