editorial: meta-torial editing the B&S

Nina Galanter '18

There are actually a lot of considerations that go into editing a B&S issue, which probably comes as a surprise, even given that you actually picked up a copy.

Personally, I have three main goals for the B&S, in no particular order. First, I want the B&S to be a vehicle for our writers’ creativity and a way for them to express their ideas and satirical writing styles. I also want the B&S to be entertaining and improve people’s Grinnell experience by a little bit. Finally, I hope the B&S can be a way to criticize negative things about Grinnell and the country and get readers to either take action or at least realize they aren’t alone in being upset.

Of course, all of these goals conflict with each other. The whole reason the B&S has editors is because the original output of anyone’s creativity is not going to be as entertaining or as pointed as it could be after someone looks it over with a different perspective. On the other hand, it’s often tempting to go overboard with editing, jeopardizing the integrity of the writer’s journalistic voice. This would defeat the whole point of having writers.So, figuring out this balance is one struggle.

Another trade-off is between criticism and entertainment. I have a feeling that for most people, while a certain amount of “seriousness” is positive, too much negativity leads to a paper that is just sad to read. So, while it’s good to have critical and pointed articles, it’s also important to have goofy and simply silly ones (which I often forget).

A bigger issue we face is what audience we cater to and who our content represents. This is something we’ve been trying to focus on a lot this semester but it’s also an area in which we still need a lot of work. Currently, the editorial board consists of four white domestic students, three of us from the Midwest. Clearly this is not a group which justly or even accurately represents the student body, and ideally in future years this will change, which will be the best way to ensure the B&S is accessible to all Grinnell students.

But regardless, and in the meantime, there are a lot of ways we try to be conscious of who the B&S is about and who it is for. One is the principle of punching up, which I learned from the former B&S chief editor. Punching up refers to the idea that humor should never be exploitative and come at the expense of vulnerable groups; instead it should be at the expense of powerful groups and institutions, if it needs to be at the expense of anyone at all. While this seems pretty simple, it must be kept in mind during editing, especially in figuring out who and what, in the particular location of Grinnell, counts as having power.

There is also making sure the name of every fake student quoted isn’t John Smith ’20 and that every person in photos isn’t the attractive white woman from a stock photo (with or without a bowl of salad) that was first on the google search, which gets into who we talk about. And a final consideration is on what experiences our humor draws, which gets into who we talk to.

While we consider all of this and the tradeoffs I discussed earlier, we still are far behind where we should be. But I hope that the B&S can continue to improve, and will become more and more a publication which everyone on campus feels they could and would enjoy writing for and which they could and would enjoy reading.