The role of a college newspaper

As the cliche by newspaperman Philip Graham goes, “Journalism is the first rough draft of history.” The Villanovan, then, in our roughly 40 pages of content every week, serves as Villanova’s first historical record, publishing before the yearbook, alumni magazines and other University retrospectives.

The ability that we possess – to print the first account of the happenings at Villanova – is unique, and a responsibility that the editors and writers of this publication do not take lightly. Being the first is important, yes, but reporting thoroughly and accurately is even more important.

The Villanovan, then, strives to publish an accurate snapshot of life at Villanova each week; what are students talking about on Jan. 29, 2009? That being said, we choose to center our focus on the happenings at Villanova University.

Recently, there were a number of complaints about our lack of coverage of Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration in last week’s issue. Without daily publication, and because we finalize Thursday’s issue on Tuesday night, it is difficult to report instantaneously, especially when trying to forge a connection to Villanova, which requires reporting on students’ reflections.

In addition, each publication plays up its strengths, whether this is the Wall Street Journal’s undeniable grasp on financial sector reporting, or the Washington Post’s detailed accounts of the inner workings of Washington. With our location – Villanova – we report most often on students and campus, although we always keep national implications for students in our minds and in our paper.

The Villanovan is and always has been the student paper of Villanova, not a national newspaper. There are four complimentary national papers on campus; students should turn to these for daily coverage. When you want to read about Villanova and students’ reactions and reflections, though, we’re your paper.

In fact, we’ve recently tried to refine our coverage areas. In the past two years, we’ve eliminated our World News and “Around the Big 5” sections to sharpen our focus. Some pieces, like “Beyond ‘Nova Nation” in sports and a number of our opinion columns, have more of a national news focus. Still, we strive to cover our well-established niche – the occurrences at Villanova – most often.

Since 1916, we’ve sought to achieve the same goals: report the events of Villanova truthfully, represent the reflections and thoughts of students, serve as a training ground for aspiring journalists, and act with the highest ethics in everything that we do.

The recognition that we are a student-run newspaper has allowed us to pursue stories that reflect the views of the students, not the official stance of the University. We’ve been granted this vital freedom that helps us to do our job as best we can – independently from University propaganda and other external controlling influences.

Every time alumni call or e-mail to ask for archived copies of The Villanovan, they remind us of the need for unbiased, accurate accounts of Villanova’s history – as it is being made and decades after. Just as we have since 1916, we’re happy to provide you with students’ understandings of the Villanova community every Thursday.