From The Editors: Conservatives shouldn’t fear a perceived liberal bias in student media
Columns / November 22, 2018
In my time with The Runner, I’ve had the good fortune to work with a lot of talented young writers. Most frequently, I enjoy reading stories from students who can write with both passion and contemplation, who can read extensively on a topic before delivering an opinion that is at once fiercely held and well-informed.
All students are capable of delivering stories like this, though there is one group whose opinions I’d like to hear more often: conservatives. Truth be told, though our newsroom is teeming with writers of varying backgrounds and differing ideologies, we do largely skew left in our beliefs.
While it would be shockingly easy—and more than a little cliche—to chalk this up to an inherent liberal bias in student media, I can tell you firsthand that that’s not the case. In fact, most editors of campus newspapers I’ve spoken to say that they long for well-read, reasonable conservatives to provide complimentary or dissenting opinions to their regular coverage.
But here’s the crux: Nobody’s looking to publish problematic shit. Now, I’ll be the first to say that “problematic shit” does not wholly belong in the realm of the conservative—plenty of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic things come out of the mouths of liberals.
If student newspapers have any sort of bias it’s not for liberal thought, but for socially conscious or progressive thought, which is not and should not be a partisan thing. As former Runner editor Tristan Johnston is often heard to say, there’s nothing about wanting small government or balanced economies that should make one opposed to women’s rights or same-sex marriage.
Unfortunately, the “conservative” opinions that are most often pitched to us are not about politics; they’re about petty oppositionalism. Rather than taking a critical eye towards the promises of the Liberal Party or discussing the financial realities of opposing the pipeline expansion, we get pitches about how the “white man” is under siege on campus, or how “snowflakes” are ruining the country. Occasionally we get pitches based on hateful bigotry, but the less attention paid to those views, the better.
Conservative writers shouldn’t see themselves as the devil’s advocate. Their job should not be to challenge liberal bias, but to provide their unique take on any given subject, regardless of whether or not they hold a minority opinion. Like all writers, they need to start by reading up on the topic they’d like to write about, filter that information through their own distinct worldview, and then convey their take to the reader in a thoughtful way.
Student newspapers would benefit from publishing more of this type of conservative writing. I’m sure our right-leaning readers would like to see their views reflected in the paper, and our left-leaning readers can learn more from the arguments they disagree with than they can from the ones repeating their own opinions ad nauseam.
For conservative writers thinking about getting involved with The Runner, we would love to have you. We would benefit from having your opinions in the paper, but consider modelling yourself after Andrew Coyne rather than Margaret Wente. If you’d like to read some KPU-centric conservative opinions, I’d recommend searching through our website for Tristan Johnston’s work. In the last year he’s written pieces on cultural appropriation and free speech that are both well-informed and leave room for peaceful discord between level-headed people.
I don’t always agree with Tristan’s work, but as an editor, I don’t have to. I only have to make sure his writing is responsible and relevant for our readership, and Tristan’s stories always are. It’s a pleasure to disagree with him, and if you’re sensible and credible in your writing, it’ll be a pleasure to disagree with you too.