Dear Citizens of Whyville,
If you are reading this article right now, you are probably a fan of the Whyville Times - and if you aren't yet, I hope you will be soon! There are a lot of great things about The Whyville Times - in a world where adults think they know better than children, it's good to have a place where you can express your views and evaluate those of your peers. You might even learn something while reading the Times - fancy that! To give you an idea of how important The Times is to me, I have had approximately 150 articles published in The Times and like all of the Times' writers, I have seen my writing improve over time. But what's more is that I've all witnessed other change and growth in people I have come to consider friends - and there is a certain satisfaction in contributing to this growth, make no mistake.
As you can imagine, those 150 articles weren't written over night. In fact, I've been working on my tally since December 2001, which means I've seen my fair share of changes not only within Whyville, but specifically in The Times. Now, I know a lot of older citizens will remember a the original editor of The Times, Bigfoot. He was everybody's friend, and even when he did say stuff you didn't exactly agree with, you couldn't help but love him. Now, Whyvillians have certainly embraced the new editor, who may be running things differently. I'm not about to say the new editor is doing a poor job - personally, I don't think I would have the patience to do her job, and so she garners my utmost respect, make no doubt about that. The only problem is that with a new editor comes change - and while change itself may be neither good nor bad, I would honestly like to know what Whyvillians think of the Times in it's current state. Don't get me wrong - I KNOW Whyville has changed a lot since I first started writing. I know that Whyville has grown, and I know that with that growth the dynamics will change, but I would like to suggest that Whyville's citizens are not happy with all of the new developments that have appeared in the Times recently.
I would like to begin by asking readers of the Times whether or not they really want columns to continue. Personally, I am opposed to columns because they guarantee that certain writers will be published each week, without offering these writers any incentive to improve their writing style. I'm not saying that someone should not be allowed to write a series. I am not saying that certain people should not be allowed to be published EVERY week. I am saying that articles should be judged on their quality and appeal - not because they are written by a certain person. If an article does not live up to the Times standards, should it be published simply because it was written by one of a select few deemed privileged enough to be the author of their own column?
Another problem with columns is that they give a monopoly of Times articles to a select few citizens, making it difficult for other articles to make it into the Times, providing a further obstacle to new writers, and limiting the variety that was once characteristic of the Times. Not knowing what you were going to get each week was part of the fun, but it seems to have been largely removed from the current newspaper. Even if readers were to decide that they enjoyed columns, this monopoly could be reduced by limiting writers to a single column each. Again, writers could continue to write what they wished, but articles would be judged on their own merit. Is this entirely undesirable?
It has also been suggested that the editor limit the number of articles a single person can have published any single week. Such a rule had been implemented in the past by the former editor, though it was not followed very strictly. To give you an idea of where I come from on this issue - I'd like to point you to the week of September 12, 2002 in which I had 11 articles published (and yes, I take pride in that fact because I'm pretty sure it's a record). Other weeks, I has multiple articles published, I make no attempt to deny that and I do not wish to be a hypocrite. However, because Whyville has expanded so much as of late, there are certainly more contributions being submitted to the Times each week. Should we limit the number of articles a single person can have in the Times?
I am in favor of imposing a limit, because it is my inclination to believe that gradually the Times itself, for a variety of reasons, has changed for the worse and will continue to worsen in terms of quality. Grammar mistakes? Rampant in articles these days - I'm sure you can point to a few of mine in this very article. What does it say of the quality of articles if there was a time when you were hard pressed to find a single mistake in every issue? And grammar mistakes aren't even difficult to fix! If there is a chance that a poorly written article won't be published, writers will be forced to reflect and what they really want to say and how they want to say it - this is for the benefit not only of writers who wish to improve their style, but also readers who might feel less inclined to skim over all the articles that seem so tawdry.
The week before my record 11 articles were published, I submitted a piece entitled "Bitterness?" (Article ID: 1720) in which I proposed many ideas similar to what I present to you today. Whyville is first and foremost an educational website - that is its appeal. That you can decorate your face and share emo poems are secondary aspects of Whyville. Being a part of the Whyville, the Times should reflect this educational aspect. I am saying another fashion or advice article should never be published? No, I am not - simply that they should not occupy the majority of the weekly publication. And will having better quality articles with an emphasis on the "educational" aspect of Whyville mean that the Times might be smaller? Probably. Is there something wrong with this? In the two pieces published in response to the aforementioned articles (Article ID: 1822), citizens of Whyville at the time agreed that I might be on to something when I proposed a smaller, higher quality Times - expansion at the expense of quality is not necessarily favorable. Do citizens today still agree?
Again, this article is not meant to criticize specific writers, nor the editor herself. Instead, I'm presenting you with my opinions which I have heard echoed by some of the people I know and respect the most - but maybe we are select few who are overly nostalgic. The point of this article is therefore to engage readers and writers of the Times in a genuine dialogue - what do YOU think? I'm not asking you what you think of me, I am not asking you to resort to name calling as so often occurs in the BBS (and which could be alleviated if the Times were not dominated by such a select few) - instead, I am asking you to voice your opinion on the matters I have presented, to listen to and respond to the opinions of others, and I sincerely hope that in doing so, all those involved can work towards making the Times something that gets better and better for years to come.
Former Senator of Whyville and current old-timer,