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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Competition breeds quality

Published: May 2, 2008
Section: Features

Fingers pound across the keyboard as the 10 p.m. “suggested deadline” flies past like a runaway freight train. The Treasurer of the Union is speaking into your ear as you send three e-mails at once. Your word count rises, along with your editor’s blood pressure. Breaking news is breaking loose, as a smile creeps across your face…

…Because no matter what, it gets done, and it gets done well. It’s because you’re working in the most interesting, most exciting, most rewarding job on campus. Because you’re working for The Hoot. And after four years of working for this newspaper, it is only appropriate that my final article is discussing not just why The Hoot was the best experience of my college career, but why this newspaper is so important to the well-being of this University as a whole.

While The Hoot’s motto is “to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” I, on the other hand, would argue that our true philosophy is “competition breeds quality.” In the previous four years, campus controversy has reached new heights, and, unfortunately, student trust in the Justice was at an all-time low. The spirit of Dusty Baker—along with the lesser evils of misquoting, questionable judgment, and the innumerable stories that fell through the cracks—not only prevented the newspaper from reaching its potential as a muckraking publication, but was reflective of a campus that only had one voice.

And that is why The Hoot is so important. With incidents such as the removal of the Voices of Palestine art exhibit, the debate surrounding a visit by Jimmy Carter, the threatened termination of Donald Hindley, the questions of due process regarding the Mamoon Darwish case, and now, the questionable tactics used during the recent Senator-at-Large elections, one voice is not enough. Because The Hoot and the Justice compete for their headlines, we, in essence, compete in the public arena—if one publication does not dig deep enough, the other one will; if one point of view is left uncovered, it won’t be for long; and if someone is misquoted, there is another platform from which to correct it. The Hoot, from the very beginning, learned from the mistakes of its predecessors—indeed, its first editors broke from within the upper echelons of the Justice’s staff. And with an alternative publication for people to turn to, the Justice has improved as well, creating a cycle of growing excellence for both.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis once wrote that “sunlight is the greatest disinfectant.” However, one source of illumination hardly gives anyone a correct interpretation of what’s ahead. While the Justice has been seen as the professional, Establishment publication on campus, sometimes the truth transcends hierarchy—sometimes, only a community can shine a candle to fight the darkness.

Instead of separating ourselves from our community, we embrace it, reaching out for anyone and everyone to contribute, no matter what their interests, experience, or politics may be. Indeed, this newspaper is so important to this school—and to me in particular—because it is “the other.” It is the path not taken. It is the excitement and pride and camaraderie that comes with doing good on this campus. It’s the most interesting, most exciting, most rewarding thing I have done as an undergraduate.

It’s The Hoot. And I love it.