What is a public editor? A public editor evaluates a media organization’s news coverage to ensure journalistic integrity and fair reporting. They serve as a representative for readers and aim to bridge the gap between a newsroom and its audience.

Not many American news organizations have public editors. The New York Times eliminated the position in 2017. NPR is the only major newsroom in the U.S. that maintains its own full-time public editor. To the best of our knowledge, the only university newspaper with a public editor in the U.S. or Canada is the University of Toronto’s The Varsity. 

Recently, controversies about irresponsible and unethical reporting — ranging from stories about police brutality to coverage of conspiracy theories — have brought questions of journalistic standards to the forefront of national discourse. While many newsrooms have privately and publicly grappled with these questions, these conversations are just beginning. It’s crucial to continue them.

This is why we are introducing the public editorship to the News: The role is needed now more than ever. As an outlet with a monopoly over daily coverage at Yale, the News reports on a range of issues that affect and reflect our community. As the publication’s inaugural public editors, we hope to recognize past mistakes, hold the News accountable and advise current editors on how to cover Yale and New Haven responsibly. We believe that good journalism is aided by open and honest criticism of our work, not by defensiveness. We will keep a particular eye on how the News is covering communities and voices that it has historically silenced, disregarded or misrepresented.

We will write columns evaluating current coverage, from the use of language to decisions on newsworthiness. In our columns, we will, at times, make public recommendations to the Managing Board, being critical when necessary and giving praise where praise is due.

As people with experience working at the News, we understand the hurdles and pressure that contributors, staffers and editors often face throughout the reporting process. Mary Chen was a copy editor, where she was responsible for maintaining language and style consistency and fact checking at the News. Serena Cho and Asha Prihar most recently served as managing editors, after reporting on the Yale administration and student life, respectively. Talia Soglin edited WKND and most recently reported on housing and environmental issues in New Haven. Going forward, former managing editors will serve as ex officio public editors in their senior year. We no longer serve in these roles and work independently from the newsroom.

You can reach us at our EMAIL: publiceditors@yaledailynews.com. We look forward to reading your criticism, questions and suggestions. 

Mary Chen, Serena Cho, Asha Prihar and Talia Soglin are the News’ public editors.