Opinion: Why it’s okay for me to have an opinion



Lucas Misera

Before I arrive at the crux of my column, it’s important to establish this: I don’t enjoy writing first-person columns.  This isn’t to say that I believe personality has no place in opinion sections — those pieces can often be most relatable for readers, as many of us have certainly experienced.

That being said, as the editor of a college newspaper’s opinion section, I oftentimes find that my primary objective is to encourage constructive discourse concerning an array of topics through a form of persuasion that both informs and injects commentary. I hope that people find themselves disagreeing with my — and my columnists’ — work occasionally.

After all, it’s called the opinion section for good reason.

However, this week I received criticism concerning my column — which discussed the World Press Photo of the Year competition — in Wednesday’s paper, and written in a manner that I have not heard before: A critic mentioned via social media that I have no right publicizing my thoughts on an industry with which I am unfamiliar.

I was —  as the old adage goes — told to stay in my lane.

To some degree, the reader is correct; I’m an economics and finance dual major who happens to be pursuing a de facto writing degree on the side.

As many of my colleagues can defend, though, I never claim any expertise within the realm of journalism. In fact, I recognize my coworkers’ mastery of the field in comparison to my minimalistic understanding of it.

Yet, here I am writing as an editor for this very newspaper, implying somebody somewhere in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication clearly trusts me enough to handle this position.

So — as somebody who gets paid to promote other people’s opinions with a constant desire to expand my own scope of knowledge — being told to suppress my thoughts because somebody else knows more about that specific topic didn’t sit well with me.

If you can’t tell, it still doesn’t.

What better way to destroy the free flow of constructive thought than to stick people in their respective intellectual corners? If nothing else, the feedback received serves as the antithesis of innovation and progress.

I’ve studied economics for three years at Kent State, and there are people in the newsroom from whom I learn something each day about the field simply through our casual talks.

Not once have I thought about silencing them.

Perhaps the greatest irony behind the criticism is that the very comment came from somebody involved in journalism; After all, isn’t that field just a conglomeration of writers and photographers disseminating information about other people’s areas of expertise?

The reality is that the degree you receive at the end of your academic career shouldn’t pigeonhole you into one title. Engineers can be businessmen, architects can be fashionistas, and chemists can dabble in politics.

You are not binary. You are a human being with unboundable potential beyond what your career or course of study may suggest.

And if you find yourself afraid to speak up and put in practice our country’s basic right of freedom of speech, recall the words of poet Oscar Wilde, who once said, “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”

A striving economist. A journalist. An ass.

Label me anything.

But the one thing I won’t be labeled is “silent.”

Lucas Misera is the opinion editor, contact him at [email protected].