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Unbought, Unbossed, Unbiased

Ombudsman

Published: Monday, August 30, 2010

Updated: Sunday, August 29, 2010 21:08

Marquis H. Barnett

Bree Gant

As I explained last week, my job is to serve as a liaison between YOU and the paper.  So, let me first give a shout out to those people who utilized the email address I provided you all with last week MHBarnett@thehilltoponline.com to voice your concerns and/or appreciation for The Hilltop's changes.

I was contacted by a 1972 alumna who expressed her gratitude for The Hilltop giving alumni "...the opportunity to share online my appreciation to all The Hilltop staff for keeping us all connected through print."  That outreach meant a great deal, as most of the paper's online readers are alumni all over the world.

However, not all correspondence I received was in the best of lights.  One concerned alumnus was displeased that, after claiming to be a 24-hour, daily publication, there was little-to-no visible content changes on the website, for what seemed like days.  I cannot say that I completely disagree with this alumnus, who offered his words with the utmost care.

As I glanced at the Web site, I thought to what The Hilltop is supposed to be—the daily student voice of Howard University.  Being that the paper is only printing Monday and Thursday, it is necessary that the online version of the paper is updated just as though it were still running daily in print.  That is what The Hilltop staff is paid to do, and that is what needs to happen.

I'm sure that a number of things could have contributed to the lack of online publication; late stories, insufficient staff etc.  But, simply put, the show must go on.  I do not agree with the latter of the alumni when he mentioned the notion that "The Hilltop has bitten off too much."

I believe that The Hilltop, having prepared for this major change since the new staff was chosen, is ready to converge to online media just like most publications in the world. 

I also believe that The Hilltop staff is comprised of dedicated and knowledgeable pre-professionals, but if the staff continues to fall short on what they promised their readership, then it will be a sad day in Hilltop History.

I would like to commend the staff on the noticeable decline in spelling and typographical errors, but I would still like to point out a few things that should not have made it to print.  Last Thursday's paper included the headline "Securing the Campus."  I thought the headline could have been much better, and it proves that there is still some work to be done.

Also, when an entire succession of editorial members can miss the fact that a large quote, in the middle of the page, is attributed to "Keith Burnett," when he has already been attributed as "Kenneth Burnett" (his actual name), is an issue.  This person is an elected student leader, and The Hilltop should have read just a little more carefully before moving forward to publication.

Let's move on.

For the past week, there has been a survey posted on www.thehilltoponline.com to see what you all thought about the paper.  At the end of the survey, 63 percent of the people said that The Hilltop was fancy, meaning that they were in favor of the changes.  25 percent said that the changes were okay.  8 percent asked "what changes?" 3 percent chose none of the options offered.  While 1 percent said that they really didn't care.

So we have a majority of those surveyed saying that they are in favor of The Hilltop's new changes.  That means that the staff is doing something correct, they just have to keep moving forward to the goal they set for themselves just a few weeks ago.

So there you have it.

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