The Daily Illini

Editorial: Help The Daily Illini improve our campus coverage

The Daily Illini Editorial Board has been led by a consistent group of editors for nearly an entire year now.

Our experiences at the helm of the paper have led to both individual growth and a better understanding of our fellow University students’ desires. We’ve learned about what students love to read (anything about KAM’s) and what they want to know (anything about Illinois basketball).

But one of these insights stands out as one of the most important things we’ve learned about our readers this year: Many of them could benefit from an explanation of how The Daily Illini Opinions section works.

The Editorial Board has seen students and campus community members come after The Daily Illini time after time with complaints of bias or irresponsible commentary. We’ve seen our friends and colleagues torn apart online for simply stating facts.

It is, of course, the right of the public to evaluate the media. The Daily Illini’s purpose is ultimately to serve the people of our campus. We take that responsibility seriously, and that’s why we always read and thoughtfully consider what our commenters have to say (we see you down there, Richard Smith).

But after nearly a year of repeated public bashing, we’ve grown tired of a specific type of complaint we see so very often: “The Daily Illini isn’t reporting the stories and opinions I want to see or personally agree with. #DefundTheDI.”

Complaining about our story selection is perfectly understandable. That problem is consistently at the top of our list of what to improve on, and many media outlets around the nation share that issue. What we hope our readers will consider changing is what they do after these initial complaints.

Though we read plenty of comments bemoaning our lack of diversity in perspectives and topics, we hardly ever receive letters to the editor or columnist applications that could help us remedy those serious issues.

We want our fellow students to participate. We want to hear differing opinions from outspoken professors and parents. Each semester, we try to reach further toward underrepresented communities during our hiring period.

We’re confident we’ve improved in this regard since last spring, but your comments are sending us a message: We need to be even better.

The Opinions section hit a relative high point for reader involvement last week regarding the contentious divestment referendum. We received more pertinent letters from concerned students in one week than during the rest of the semester combined.

That level of involvement is what we hope to achieve every week. In an ideal world, our paper is a cog in the ongoing campus discourse, facilitating and directing conversation toward the most interesting subjects.

It’s our staff’s job to represent everyone’s perspective on campus, but we need your help to do so.