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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Deis: Just Another Glutton of Sensationalism

Published: April 7, 2006
Section: Opinions

It is often said that a title can make or break a piece of writing, but who knew it would define one's readership in a campus newspaper. The Brandeis community often expresses disgust towards the American media: the media that propagates sensationalist stories, encourages political bickering, created sound-bite politics, and rarely debates actual policy. However, this criticism has not seemed to hold true in practice.

I have learned some extremely interesting things being a columnist at Brandeis, all of which I never assumed to be true about the Brandeis populace. Primarily, the community is largely disinterested in news and opinions that do not offend and/or aggressively attack a segment of the student body. Quickly into my career as a columnist, it became clear that people were more apt to read and listen to lurid writings rather than columns that suggested reasonable policies that ought to be adopted on campus. My fourth column, “The Increasing Irrelevancy of Feminism,” elicited a massive response as I “attacked” the actions of a segment of the campus populace. Even today, one can read the column on the window of the Women's Resource Center as a testament of Brandeis's “sexist” media. Naturally, I switched the tone of my writing: Why bother purposing reasonable programs in a non-aggressive tone if no one is interested in listening? My columns quickly became more antagonistic and, coincidentally, increasingly read and debated among the community.

Earlier this winter, I attempted to return to my earlier days of writing about positive proposals that I felt would benefit the entire community, rather than attack the maladies that I see around me. Along with Andy Meyers, I wrote a column about allocating a percent of our meal-plan points to be used off-campus, however, the column was ignored. After its publication, I spoke with two members of the Student Union's Dining Services Committee about their thoughts on the topic and feasibility of implementing the program. Much to my surprise, they had not even bothered to read the article, despite the fact they openly admitted they had read many of my past ones.

Why are our elected officials ignoring topics that they are there to legislate on? Simple, people are enticed by sensationalism and the Brandeis community is shamefully no different. While I recognize that many do not fit this mold, it is obvious that many do. Often I talk to people about my columns, and I frequently discover those that usually only read columns with “more antagonistic” titles, most notably citing “Self-Aggrandizing Extremists Destroy the Campus Community”.

But what does that really say about us? We attack the American media, yet only care to read about those who dare to offend. Sparsely attended lectures from renowned academics occur daily at Brandeis, yet an inarticulate and unintelligent Republican hate-monger, Brian Camenker, can pack an entire room. There's no room for intellectualism and moderation anymore, only extremism.