by David Hermanson, Staff Writer, January 2022
Much to the chagrin of the writers and editors over here at The Nobleman, Nobleman articles, it seems, are simply not interesting enough anymore. In recent times, there has been a purported trend of readers skimming only the first few lines of an article before slowly letting its contents slip away into the back of one’s consciousness. Rather than focus on the words at hand, it seems that many at Nobles have no qualms letting the substance on the page sadly flop into the “forget this immediately” category of their brains before halting efforts to read articles entirely.
This trend begs a difficult question: Is the lack of attentiveness to Nobleman articles the fault of students or is it the school newspaper itself that is causing the issue? Worse yet, is the reason that Nobleman articles are boring because of the writers themselves? While this writer’s personal instincts are to go on a grandpa-esque rampage on “kids nowadays” for having short attention spans as a result of TikTok or some other laughable scapegoat, after having examined the history of The Nobleman itself, it appears that it may be The Nobleman which is at fault. Nowadays, I would argue, The Nobleman is simply too boring. But why?
While in decades past, The Nobleman often issued articles on controversial and engaging topics such as power struggles between faculty, it seems that, in an effort to “keep the peace” so to speak, these ideas have been kept out of publishing cycles. Instead, the newspaper has been reduced to what amounts to a cleverly veiled school-sponsored propaganda campaign. In exchange, the paper receives ample funding and resources, solidly earning it its status as one of the most secure institutions in the school.
The Nobleman can publish articles questioning faculty or the school so long as it reflects well on the student body and the newspaper itself. Very rarely are there articles published that would damage the reputation of either specific groups of students, faculty, or administrators, even if perhaps those topics are the most pressing. If these articles are published, Nobles students can be guaranteed that somewhere along the line these articles were subject to drastic cuts and rewrites so as to frame people in a better light or shift blame.
To fill the void of controversy, more articles have emerged that push for greater social equity and resources, but at this point it is fair to say that many of these articles are not controversial amongst the overwhelming majority of the student body. This, plus the addition of many satire pieces, have resulted in less articles coming forth detailing gritty facts regarding the school’s management or underground student life that teachers and parents are less likely to condone.
Articles regarding substance abuse, controversial student opinions on happenings around the school, and sexual health, for example, are significantly underreported, in part because they are allegedly not appropriate enough to be published. This issue is further exacerbated by the difficulty in obtaining information from students who are unwilling to have their name go on record. The inability to anonymously source information makes it so private topics, the exact issues The Nobleman should be touching upon, remain secret. This is unlike some newspapers at other schools, such as Milton or BB&N, which both often allow for the publishing of opinion articles regarding extremely sensitive topics.
Now, this is not to say that everything should be published. There are certain levels of professionalism that should be upheld if The Nobleman is to be taken seriously. However, if the purpose of the newspaper itself is to encourage dialogue, I believe more can be done to encourage healthier and more fruitful discourse.
For one, I believe that restructuring the brainstorming process in such a way as to include larger portions of the Nobles community would ensure that more articles would be published on topics that the average student actually cares about. This could be accomplished through more frequent student surveys or by creating more awareness of who to contact within the paper. Having only a small section of the school responsible for determining what is deserving of being published means that certain groups may be underrepresented.
Additionally, I believe that anonymous sourcing must be more frequently permitted to allow for students to share more candid thoughts. While some argue that this could create an environment of distrust and interfere with the school’s desire to foster open dialogue, it is inarguable that people will hide their real thoughts sometimes if they know they will be heard and judged by others. In fact, this is a frequent issue encountered at The Nobleman.
Elaborating on the previous topic of anonymous sourcing, some argue that it would wreak havoc on the journalistic integrity of the paper. However, proponents of this point fail to notice that many well respected papers include anonymous sourcing frequently, such as the New York Times. It follows that, as The Nobleman has found itself trending away from being fully student-led, the paper has found itself having difficulties reaching the very people for which it was designed. Moving forward, I hope that more actions will be taken so as to reflect the ideas and issues that are relevant to the student body and that these ideas are published regardless of their implications.