It has become apparent that there is much confusion when distinguishing the opinion of individual contributors versus that of The Varsity as a whole, particularly on social media.
Last week, ahead of the 2019 federal election, we published an opinion piece by a contributor that endorsed the Conservative Party. As usual in the Comment section, we included “Opinion” in the text of the social media posts on both Facebook and Twitter.
However, the label, as usual in the Comment section, was not included in the actual heading of the article. This led to many readers believing that the article reflected the opinion of the newspaper itself. In fact, we published our own endorsement through the editorial board a few hours later, which was the opposite of that of the contributor.
In our print issue, all opinion pieces are published under the Comment page, and editorials are published under the Editorial page. On social media, however, we recognize that we can do more such that readers can easily distinguish between the two.
Hence, beginning with our eighth issue, the headlines in all Comment pieces published online will be labelled appropriately.
First, all pieces written by contributors that represent their individual views will be published with the “Opinion” label.
Second, all pieces written by contributors on behalf of a particular organization or group will continue to be published with the “Op-ed” label. Typical op-ed pieces are written by members of student unions, executives of student groups, and other student leaders writing on behalf of their constituents.
Third, all pieces written by The Varsity Editorial Board that reflect the opinion of our masthead will be published with the “Editorial” label. It is noteworthy that “Opinion,” “Op-ed,” and “Editorial” pieces all operate independently from one another.
Fourth, all pieces written by readers in response to any aspect of our coverage will be labelled as a “Letter to the Editor” — in fact, as with op-eds, this is how we publish them already.
I would also like to take the opportunity to highlight the divide between the News and Comment sections. Contributors are only permitted to write consistently for one section each year.
The Varsity masthead is prohibited from writing for the Comment section, and the comment editor is the single member of the masthead who cannot write for the News section.
This is to ensure that different sections of our paper remain independent such that News and Comment do not influence each other.
As both the comment editor and the chair of the editorial board, you may contact me about any concerns about our opinion pieces, and also send letters to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.