Headline Changes Distort Intended Tone of Articles
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
With respect for the tremendous amount of late-night, extracurricular work routinely done by the editorial staff of The Kenyon Collegian, I feel the need to correct some adjustments they made to an article I wrote two weeks ago. These changes, particularly the title, drastically altered the tone and perceived intent of the piece, which concerned itself with the myriad changes Kenyon has undergone in recent years.
The article was meant to be far more light-hearted than its given title, “Nostalgia Haunts Recent Campus Changes,” described. My original title, “New-News and Other News,” lent itself far better to the sensitivity to irony that a consideration of nostalgia demands.
The third paragraph, which was meant to provide an objective list of some of the changes here at Kenyon, was changed to show that I am, “aghast at how quickly Kenyon has changed in my short time here.” I have rarely found myself surprised by change, though I believe that the word aghast would accurately describe my reaction to the Collegian’s disregard for my words.
My exhausted peers made these changes in the wee hours of the morning; they made the simple mistake of misinterpreting my tone. That being said, the fact that they are my peers causes me to strongly object to an editorial policy that requires staff of the Collegian to re-title every article they receive. Just because an author titles his or her own article doesn’t mean it should be changed.
Anyone planning on entering the field of communications in any capacity should be aware of the danger of this type of action. In an opinion piece, barring inarticulate prose or FCC violation, words should only be improved for the sake of clarity.
Editors have always been charged with the trying responsibility of mediating interactions between readers and writers on pages the world over. To do any more than mediate is to overstep an editorial boundary designed to prevent the alteration of a writer’s thoughts. Since writing is an act of self-actualization, editors have the power to shape the very substance of an author’s soul.
To exercise this power is to claim ownership over another’s words and, by extension, the words themselves — the sole intellectual property of people throughout the ages.
Chad Weisman ’13 is an American studies and English double major. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.