Secrets of the Torch room

Graphic by Suzanna Creasey

Four beeps and you’re in.

A floor-to-ceiling whiteboard full of ideas, computers lined up against the back wall and a gallery of student-made memes highlighting aspects of our production process are all key features of the mysterious publications room.

The reason for this exclusive room is to provide a location for the newspaper staff to develop our ideas and keep them confidential until publication. We want to maintain the integrity of our paper by avoiding any outside influences that may affect our work and lead to a possible bias.

Each issue endures a rigorous process lasting for about a month. Our staff of over 50 students begins by finding story ideas before the previous issue is published. Finding stories readers would be interested in is arguably the most challenging aspect of the process as journalists need to take into account the newsworthiness of an idea and relevance to students.

Through class discussions and conversations overheard in the halls, we have heard that people see Torch as being “too liberal.” We were even dubbed as the “Social Justice Warrior Times.”

While we are keeping our work private until publication, we aren’t hiding a bias.

We maintain objectivity by using an array of sources in our stories. We report on what is newsworthy, which often entails changes in society. These changes can be perceived as being more liberal.

The stories we have received the most backlash for in terms of being “too liberal” are the articles regarding transgender policies changing, the #MeToo movement, gun violence and microaggressions. We chose to write about these stories due to the relevance each topic had with the student body and the community. We try to combat the possibility of a bias by including sources all along the political spectrum. For example, in an article about the 2016 election, we included sources from both sides of the political spectrum to objectively present the topic.

A section of the paper that may contribute to a perceived liberal bias by some is the Opinions section, since we receive the most comments from readers about the columns we publish. The purpose of a column is for a writer to express their opinion, and it is the only section that is not objective. From the pool of submitted pieces, the Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor and Executive Opinions Editor evaluate the strength of the idea and the execution in writing it. No column has been accepted or denied because of its political message. The other sections of the newspaper are dedicated to objectively reporting newsworthy topics for our audience.

We operate as a channel of communication for the student body. Instead of claiming we have a liberal bias, talk to the staff about your concerns and have a productive conversation with the editorial board or write a letter to the editor. All letters are carefully reviewed and considered for publication if they are appropriate and coherent, and almost all are published because we value the voices of our audience.

So the secret is out: we are here to inform our readers about new topics that affect them, even if we are tucked away in the Torch room.