The editorial page within any newspaper has always been a peculiar creature. Ultimately, of course, the mission of the editorial page, like the rest the paper, is to inform readers, but the editorial page carries the additional, unique task of putting forth forceful arguments intended to persuade and provoke discussion. While the rest of The Chronicle seeks to be as objective and impartial as possible in its delivery of information, the editorial page is unabashedly opinionated. Consequently, in order to physically distinguish the editorial page from the rest of the paper and to symbolically note its special status as an influencer in addition to an informer, the editorial page runs in the back page of the newspaper.
However, despite its location, the editorial page is frequently the first place a reader turns to when picking up a copy of The Chronicle, and for good reason, too. The editorial page is the nexus of campus dialogue both as an originator of heated, passionate debate and as an open forum for the continuation of conversation through Letters to the Editor or guest columns.
Under my editorship this coming year, I wish to see the editorial page be a lively marketplace for the exchange of ideas, with daily contributions from a diverse swath of student viewpoints. Hopefully, the editorial page will expose the student body and the Duke community at large to a multitude of opinions, compelling every reader to reflect on his or her own ideas, values and convictions. In service to that mission and as the word “newspaper” suggests, I will encourage editorial page authors to engage with the news—new things happening at Duke, the United States, the world—whether that be politics, social initiatives, race relations or whatever else. I will endeavor for every single editorial page published under my leadership to be a study in the art of persuasion, the force of argument and the skillful exercise of rhetoric.
Every day, the editorial page features columns, an editorial and any Letters to the Editor or guest columns that we may receive. Columns are written by student authors and solely reflect each author’s own views. I, as the Editorial Page Editor, play no role in the substantive formation of columns—the content, message, argument, internal logic or otherwise. I serve only to provide guidance when called upon and to edit. My restrained role is self-imposed and by design. In order to promote an editorial page where all speech and viewpoints are welcome and, in fact, encouraged, I act only as an umpire, not a pitcher or batter. In addition to columns, the daily editorial offers readers the considered, collective opinion of the independent Editorial Board of The Chronicle, of which I am a non-voting member.
This upcoming fall semester will feature a lineup of 29 excellent columnists. Our writers range from Trinity to Pratt, undergraduate to graduate, President of IFC to President of Divest Duke, lifelong North Carolinians to international students and across almost every other conceivable demographic categorization. It is my absolute pleasure and humble privilege to oversee such a brilliant selection of writers, and I hope that you, our valued reader, will enjoy perusing the editorial page this year.
Jonathan Zhao is the Editorial Page Editor of The Chronicle V. 111.