It’s a stigma that I’ve had to fight against during my three volumes on the Stanford Daily Editorial Board: Editorial boards are not important. But I think editorial boards are important.
A successful editorial board first and foremost engages with the community. In this sense, a good editorial board differs from a regular opinions columnist, who often has a specific thematic topic and writes about what is interesting to them. Editorial boards should write about what is interesting to the community they serve.
But a good editorial board goes beyond merely engaging with the community. Its members do their homework. Having served for two years on Daily editorial boards, this is one area in which I’ve seen growth. If we know the student body has concerns or questions about something and we don’t know the answer, we go ask someone.
A great example of this was our editorial on what Stanford should look for in a new president. After some discussion, we had come up with a general direction of where we wanted the new president to take Stanford. But then, after further discussion, we realized we didn’t know much about what a president at Stanford did or what made a good president. Instead of pretending we knew these things, we decided to ask questions of people who did. As an editorial board, we talked to members of the Presidential Search Committee, faculty members who had worked under multiple presidents at Stanford and members of the University administration. These conversations shed light on what the president actually does (a lot of fundraising) and what sort of qualities are most useful in a university president.
We, however, weren’t merely reporting facts. We used these insights to inform our own opinions and adjust our expectations for what we wanted from the new president. As a result, editorials in which this homework has been done should have more meaning and impact.
This is why I think our editorial board is important to the Stanford community. If we’re doing our job correctly, we are responding to questions that matter, using our position as an editorial board to ask those questions to the relevant people — and then thinking, debating and deliberating carefully to ensure that our opinions are thoughtful, measured and, hopefully, impactful.
We don’t do all of these things well as an editorial board. We often struggle to identify what is most important to the Stanford community and, in the process, forget about the issues within different parts of the larger Stanford community. And our homework isn’t always as thorough as it should be. But we’ve grown as an editorial board over the past two years, and I hope this growth will continue as we find that balance between opinion and intellectual humility. It is ultimately to serve the Stanford community that I have spent the last two years on the Daily’s editorial board.
Andrew Vogeley ‘17 served as president and editor-in-chief of Volume 249. He is a senior majoring in political science and hails from the great state of Texas (and he’ll be sure to let you know it). Outside of The Daily, Andrew is president of RUF, a Christian fellowship group. To contact Andrew, email him at avogeley ‘at’ stanford.edu.
This piece is part of the Vol. 250 Editorial Board’s “Why The Daily matters” series. Read the rest of the editorials here.