Opinion

What Are We Doing? The Mission of The Tower

By Daniel Schwen - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7306209

By now, we’re about a month into this new phase in the publication’s life. We changed our name (for good this time), launched a new website, reorganized our editorial team, and added many more writers. In the past month, we’ve published more articles of higher quality than ever before, and we’re only picking up the pace thanks to our dedicated team of writers. We’ve been publishing The Darsch Report almost every week for a few months now, and this Friday we’re starting an 11 week series exploring the 10 ideals of conservatism according to Russell Kirk. That’s not to mention the four podcasts we’re working on (more on that coming soon, too).

One might ask: what do we have to offer that existing publications don’t? Why should anyone care that at a school as small as Trinity University there’s another publication serving the student body? It might be easy to say we want to provide a conservative voice and perspective on campus events, and while it’s certainly true that our opinions are at least right of center, I think we have something to offer to everyone at Trinity, in the San Antonio area and even in Texas more generally. To justify asking already busy students to write, to justify paying for our upcoming print issues and anything else we do, we need to defend the claim that what we’re offering is better and different from any other publication.

We have the most potential for growth and a wider readership by offering a more conservative perspective on events in San Antonio. I’m not talking about biased news reporting (because we take great care to report on news stories as objectively as we can), but coverage of events that left-leaning papers in town like the Express-News, the Current, or the Rivard Report wouldn’t often bother reporting on. Things like the Alamo March for Life or individualized profiles on City Council candidates.

We also tend to have our ear closer to the ground for news of interest to conservatives, like the recent closure of the Whole Woman’s Health facility in town. We wrote about it at the end of December, and the Express-News didn’t have their article published until mid-January. For whatever reason, no right-leaning paper in San Antonio has gained traction yet, and I think we are excellently positioned to fill that void (speaking of which, we aren’t restricted only to Trinity students— anyone, from any school or decades out of college, is welcome to write a one-off op-ed or join us on a regular basis).

We’re also writing about statewide, national, and even global events, but from our perspective. If we don’t think we have something unique to offer about an event, such as an interview with a student who has some personal connection to it, or some little-known connection to Trinity or San Antonio, we won’t write about it. The trap that many student publications run into is thinking that they’re the same caliber as the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. We aren’t, and we won’t pretend to be something we’re not.

Probably the biggest question here is “what about the Trinitonian?” Why does Trinity need another publication focusing on campus news? From where we’re standing, we see two main reasons: perspective and independence.

The Trinitonian is undeniably left-leaning. This is not an indictment of their journalistic integrity or the character of the staff, just a function of it being the paper at a liberal arts university. The Trinitonian should be commended for not going after conservative students or clubs in the name of ‘news reporting’ as papers at some other institutions sometimes do. The news section fairly portrays the events of the past week. However, the Trinitonian tends not to address events that are less mainstream, like the Young Conservatives of Texas’s Berlin Wall last semester. Or, when the Trinity Diversity Connection, a University Sponsored Organization (USO), endorsed candidates for Student Government Association (SGA).

The Trinitonian claims to be independent—right there in their tagline, “The Independent Student Publication of Trinity University.” And while they tend not to run rampant with bias or prop up obviously unqualified faculty or administrators (which likely has more to do with the excellence of our faculty), the Trinitonian can never truly be an independent paper. While not technically a USO, their budget is guaranteed in the SGA constitution at their five year average, as is true for every USO. They have a faculty advisor, workspace, and funding guaranteed by Trinity. These are not necessarily bad things, but they make it impossible for the Trinitonian to ever be truly independent.

The Tower is completely committed to independence. We will never take direction from Trinity or any other outside organization. Our goal is to serve the students of Trinity and the people of San Antonio with the best news stories and the right ideas. The Tower has no paid personnel—we are all taking the time out of our schedules to work on this project because we believe it will better the communities we care so much about. If you read something on the Tower, you can trust that no one told us what to publish or not publish, and that we are ready to stand behind what we’ve written.

We chose to rename our publication for the distinctive Murchison Tower on Trinity’s campus, for the Tower of the Americas and for the idea of intellectual pursuit that the image of a tower evokes. There’s a reason our first major project is a long exploration of the ideas of Russell Kirk. With the right ideas, we believe the right perspective will come across in everything we publish, whether it’s a review of VeggieTales in the House or a news article on the annual MLK march. If you understand that ideas have consequences and that factual and independent reporting matters, then the Tower, the right voice for the Alamo City, is the publication for you.

Luke is a Senior at Trinity University, majoring in Economics and Public Policy with a minor in Latin. He is the founding President of Tigers for Life, the Trinity chapter of Students for Life of America, and co-founder and former President of the Young Conservatives of Texas at Trinity University. He is the Editor in Chief for The Tower for the 2018-19 school year, focusing on increasing the size and quality of the publication articles, as well as the influence on campus and around San Antonio.

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