Letter from the editor: A paper’s identity

By: Julie Pike, Editor-in-Chief

As of recently I’ve been tasked with the difficult question of how I would describe the identity of The Free Press.

Every news publication has an identity, how they are perceived by their readers and also how they perceive themselves.

For some, this identity is reflected in their stance on political matters, whether they be mostly Conservative, Liberal, or somewhere in between.

It can also be seen in the types of stories that publication covers, whether they cover a certain region, local, or national news.

In 2016 Statista reported that there were 1,286 daily newspapers in the U.S., even more when you include weeklies, b-weeklies, or monthly newspapers. In Maine, there are around 60 newspapers, all with a specific audience that they appeal to. There’s the Gorham Times, a community newspaper for the town of Gorham and the Portland Press Herald, who covers not only the state of Maine, but also provides national and international news coverage for their audience.

For The Free Press, our coverage identity is simple. We cover the news of USM and its community. We work to find stories that are directly related to our main audience. However, we certainly broaden our scope if there are statewide or national issues that have a direct effect to students, staff or faculty at USM.

Our identity can also be found in our mission statement:

“The University of Southern Maine Free Press is a community newspaper written and produced for an audience of students, staff and faculty, created by a team of USM students. We provide the news about our university and it’s community to our audience in a weekly print newspaper. We will justify our name by providing a public forum for free exchange of information and ideas within a university community of diverse viewpoints, goals and directions.”

From this, I believe our identity can also be found in our values, what we strive to be in our reporting. We are student journalists, so we are far from perfect in our writing, but our ultimate goal is to produce unbiased and factual work. We want our community to have any important information about their university made available to them.

One section of our paper in which we can reflect our identity, is perspectives. In this section we are able to showcase a varying amount of ideas and opinions. This section can reflect not only the views of our staff, but the views of our community, with letters to the editor or guest editorials. We believe that our community deserve a place to have their voices heard.

While The Free Press has an identity in a clear and basic sense, in how we are a student run newspaper that provides news for USM, we also have an identity that I want to strive for.

I want our publication to be known to cover a wide variety of topics and discussions, all in a well research and well reported manner. This includes unbiased and factual reporting. I want this paper to be known for having high standards of work. Most importantly, I want The Free Press to be an integral part of the school, and have a community that is more involved with their campus newspaper.

Everything that I just mentioned may be difficult to achieve, but in my last year at USM, I will work to follow those standards, to achieve the identity I want our paper to have. While an editor’s time at The Free Press is always temporary, I hope nonetheless to create a lasting impression and change.

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