Journalism is often associated with an impartial, neutral, and objective attitude toward information; reporting the news is about the facts, not the journalist. On the other hand, everyone is entitled to an opinion formed from their judgment and feelings — which may or may not be informed by fact.
The Comment section is the best of both worlds. Indeed, commentaries require both evidence and opinion. The point is not simply to give your two cents, but to present your viewpoint in a cohesive and reasoned way, explain why your position matters, and thereby earn the respect of your readers — albeit not always their agreement.
It is key to recognize that facts are not always merely facts: their meanings are always subject to interpretation, which largely depends on worldview, experience, and identity. The Comment section allows us to break the golden rule of objectivity and recognize multiple subjectivities. It also assigns an implicit responsibility to commentators to break down and analyze a never-ending stream of information into intelligible arguments, which is conducive to constructive engagement and public dialogue.
While the News section prioritizes the impartial reporting of facts, Comment — while upholding a standard of accuracy and fairness — recognizes that the facts we choose, and how we understand and articulate them, is what ultimately gives life and meaning to fact as a whole. In the end, fact is the picture frame: your truth, and how you understand the world of facts around you, is your canvas to fill.
The nature of the game is that the actual opinions are not always appetizing or even relevant to the lives and experiences of everyone. The framing and rhetoric that go into forming opinions are as crucial to shaping the final product as the opinions and facts themselves. The art of persuasion — the skill of using language and structure — is fundamental to articulate a clear line of thinking, even if some might disagree. In this game of framing, multiple voices can approach an issue from different angles, each with solid evidence, but persuasion is essential to turn good commentaries into great commentaries.
Whether you have something to say about student life, campus politics, or critical issues in Toronto, The Varsity’s Comment section enables you to share your voice and engage in conversation with the U of T community. Just make sure to have a fine balance of opinion, evidence, and persuasion, and you will surely find yourself at home.
Ibnul Chowdhury is a third-year student at Trinity College studying Economics and Peace, Conflict, and Justice Studies.
Jenisse Minott is a third-year student at UTM studying Communications, Culture, Information, and Technology and Professional Writing.