Improve quality of sources
I understand that The Daily Targum stands as a student-run publication, from funding to reporting and editorial. This speaks much to the integrity of the paper and the ability for student voices to be heard in the community. In this way, the Targum is an invaluable resource. However, the tendency that student reporting leads to publication of arbitrarily presented student opinion is something that prevents me from really using or viewing the Targum as a legitimate news source. I understand that it is supposed to represent the voices of the student body — but merely quoting random students for the sake of "student opinion" detracts from rather than bolsters many of the paper's articles. Let me be more specific.
As I glanced at today's Targum, I was immediately drawn to the front page article, "Congress reviews Senate bill allowing guns on trains." This is not only a national issue but also local issue, as Amtrak trains run through New Brunswick and has major hubs in places as close as Newark and New York. The debate over allowing unloaded guns in checked baggage on trains is a classic Second Amendment debate: The issue is individual liberty vs. security.
The article was well reported in the sense that it clearly outlined the problem and used great sources like Amtrak's director of Media Relations and also a member of the University's National Transit Institute. These are people within the realm of the industry and who have the expertise to comment intelligently on the matter. Everyone, of course, is entitled to their own opinions, but that doesn't make them relevant for publication in an objective news article. I was merely confused and wanted to stop reading when out of nowhere we hear from, "Rutgers Business School first-year student Lap Nguyen." Not only did I find his statements ungrounded, they interrupted the flow of the story.
What I found worse, however, was the use of opinion from sophomore Marion Clement. The article stated that, "Clement, a native of France, said developed European countries do not allow citizens to bear arms and the crime rate is lower than the United States." Then it went on to quote her as saying, "The majority of crimes in the United States are because of guns." While it may be true that there is a lower European crime rate and that guns contribute to crimes in the United States, I find this use of opinion absurd. How does being a "native of France" allow one to be cited for crime rates and to comment on the cause of crime rates, an issue hotly debated and immersed in complex arguments? I don't intend to dispute the validity of those comments made, merely the use of them within the article. It would have functioned much better to simply leave out the student quotes entirely and let the opinions be voiced in discussions of the student reader, rather than embedded in the article and detracting from the otherwise well done, legitimate reporting.
Kaja Stamnes is a Douglass College senior majoring in political science and journalism and media studies.