A teacher once told me that small minds talk about people, everyday minds talk about things, and great minds talk about ideas.
He was right. I fell into the small minds category on Monday, when I published a faux-obituary for the longstanding conservative publication on campus, the Stanford Review. Part of growing as a public writer – and frankly as a normal human being – is learning to apologize when you’ve figured out you’re wrong. This is one of those times for me.
I stand by a few of the things I wrote: the assertion that the blog had not been updated regularly, for one, and my opinion that it is extremely valuable to have a thoughtful conservative publication on campus. Besides that, my piece descended to a level of discourse I typically try very hard to avoid: criticizing a writer or publication, rather than her or its ideas; a lack of substance in favor of style; and a shortage of empirical research that, had I conducted it, would have contradicted my thesis.
First, very few student papers – and none that I know of on this campus – run plagiarism checks on all of their writers’ work. Finding out suddenly that one of your writers has plagiarized could happen to anyone and to any editor; there is no uniquely sloppy anti-plagiarism work going on at the Review. Second, the disaster that was the election-night scandal over the SOCC piece is much more complex than it would appear to be on the surface. Without going into detail, I was wrong to poke fun at the Review without asking questions about what happened that night. Third, the Review still prints every other week, and circulation has not declined. Fourth, the Review doesn’t have a sports section, so the outdated appearance of the online sports section is due to an unwise decision to put the paper’s few sports stories on the front page of the web edition, not a sudden decline in the quantity of athletic output.
When I wrote my original piece, I intended it to be a fun and unorthodox jab at a paper I had once loved to read in the hopes of bringing it back to life. After meeting with a Review staffer and having a terrific conversation about everything from her paper to campus and world politics, and after rereading the piece several times, I’ve realized that it didn’t come off that way.
We are all Stanford students doing the best we can to juggle extracurriculars, academics, athletics, and more. Occasionally we all fall short; I certainly have. But one of the biggest failings we can commit is to capitalize on other people’s failings. I expect better than that from other writers, and so I should also expect it of myself.
Thanks for reading, and to the current staff at the Review: my apologies.
Contact Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org.