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A clarification of the Beacon's op-ed policy

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • November 8, 2012

In response to members of Emerson Progressives and Radicals in Defense of Employees’ (PRIDE) circulation of a flier alleging editorial improprieties on behalf of The Berkeley Beacon staff, we find it incumbent upon ourselves to clearly state Beacon policy regarding opinion submissions.

Titled “This editorial was supposed to appear in the November 8th Berkeley Beacon,” its body text is a version of an op-ed submitted to the opinion section by junior marketing communication major Emma MacDonald. MacDonald did not sign the op-ed — pertaining to a "security breech [sic]" in the Little Building — as printed on the flier. It further accuses three Beacon editors of “[inserting] their bias into this editorial piece, which is not the intention of the editing process.” In fact, four editors suggested revisions to MacDonald's draft. 

In the Beacon’s opinion section, we are accustomed to respectfully editing the words of students who disagree with our private views and that of the Beacon’s editorial board. The diverse opinions we publish are what make that page an arena for students and faculty to exchange ideas. However, op-eds worth publishing must survive a process of challenge and scrutiny to ensure they hold up against opposing arguments. Editors do not have the power to “insert” their own voices into any piece in the opinion section; writers may elect to follow or disregard any direction given to a first draft.

Shaping a well-reasoned argument requires identifying holes, unfounded accusations, broad generalizations, logical inconsistencies, unidentified sources, and unattributed statistics in its construction. Working with writers to clear up those issues strengthens their credibility and ours.

It is with the intention of improving the integrity of an op-ed that we give edits. If a writer is unwilling to revise a piece in such a way that it meets that standard, we reserve the right not to publish it.

Furthermore, the editorial board is always eager and willing to print positive or negative feedback from readers on the editorial page. Letters shorter than 250 words are welcome additions to our newspaper. We find that the most productive way to reach both the Beacon and its readers.

Letters to the editor and op-ed pitches can be sent to the opinion editor, Hayden Wright. Clearing topics before drafting saves time and helps to ensure publication, as already-written op-eds may not fit the section in a given week.

Signed,

The Editorial Board