op ed from one of our opinion columbnists

On Monday, Spectator Editor in Chief Sammy Roth announced the intention to demolish and rebuild Pinkberry, so as to build sufficient space after some period of time in excess of 20 or 30 years.

I went to Pinkberry to get a frozen yoghurt the other day. The building’s facade is pristine and yet I still felt the sign marking the entrance to the Columbia Spectator to be a massive transgression upon its integrity as a frozen yoghurt joint. No preservation society will fight to preserve the building for its worth as long as its the headquarters of a terrible campus publication. The wrecking ball can’t hit soon enough, and I’m glad that Editor in Chief Roth has the good sense to plan ahead.

Spec’s finances have been in shambles for as long as any current student cares to remember. It is telling that in the same meeting in which Roth announced his intention to replace the spec headquarters in Pinkberry, he simultaneously voiced doubt about the Spec’s ability to pay the $2 bill for the frozen yoghurt he was eating.

More importantly, as the 21st century moves along, I wonder whether Spec can continue to justify its existence as an independent undergraduate publication alongside Bwog. Meaningless rhetoric and labels aside, I wonder whether in 20 or 30 years Spec will be able to offer its readers a newspaper that is substantially or even noticeably different from anything Bwog are doing. I wonder whether it does right now.

I don’t want to compare mission statements or dwell on the merger between Spec and Bwog that almost took place a year or so ago. We are told that Spec is an independent student run publication in New York and that Bwog is the snarky rival. Yet beside the label and the rhetoric, I don’t see how the substance of a Spec article necessarily differs from a Bwog one.

While different writing style and integrity requirements exist, the articles published that supposedly fulfill those requirements are often the same ones—with the obvious exception being found in the fact that spec is still not daily. Relevancy and requirements of familiarity with the topic matter about which they are writing are, by design, flexible and lenient enough to accommodate a wide variety in just how much individual articles suck. While Spec’s publishing does not directly correspond with Bwog’s—that is to say there isn’t a Bwog equivalent for every Spec article and vice versa—the differences seem to me more administrative and arbitrary than substantive.

I understand that there are minute differences between the Bwog and the Spec mission, and that running a blog that tells people where to get free food is slightly different from a newspaper that isn’t daily. Yet, it is entirely possible that two students, one working at Bwog, another working at Spec, can graduate with similar interests in journalism, having covered many of the same stories.

Having never read any of Spec’s Arts and Entertainment, Sports, or the Eye—and to be honest, having barely read anything on Bwog except the comment sections—I can’t speak to whether tangible differences exist between the two. However, I don’t think there are necessary and essential differences between the host of administrative and journalistic services available on either of these publications. Perhaps differences exist now, but there is no reason they have to. What differences there may be do not define Spec or Bwog—they are incidental.

If Spec split its staff in half, the first half only working on certain days of the week, the second half working on the other days of the week, there might be some differences in the quality of one half compared to the other half. However, that is not to say that they would now actually be capable of producing a daily newspaper nor one that doesn’t suck. Bwog’s capabilities in providing free food might be in much better shape than Spec’s, but that difference hardly merits a separate publication.

I can’t for the life of me figure out how the social life could be so different on in one publication versus the other. Living above Pinkberry could be seen as significant, but given that specsters have the opportunity to live off-campus or in Columbia residence halls, it is hardly an unshakeable pillar of the spec experience. The fact is that both Bwog and Spec share sources, have terrible writing, go to the same networking events, and are both in the favor of corrupt administrators.

While a Spec-Bwog merger might seem logical, it is more likely to be caused by economic reasons than one of journalistic philosophy. Spec is in a rather dire situation—readers are dropping, corrupt administrators are being deposed, and opinion op-eds are being lambasted by the entire student body. Bwog, despite the shitty new site layout, will continue to view straggling spec readers as its biggest impediment toward further expansion.

Especially if they become more acute, Spec’s dire finances and Bwog’s demand for readers at any cost would make a merger mutually beneficial. If and when a merger occurs, I don’t know whether we—that is, the readers—will lose much aside from the journalistic overlap that currently exists.

And where does that overlap come from? It comes as a result of the corruption of the two publications, because at one point in time, Bwog didn’t see it fit to continue fighting the spec.

So, why isn’t a merger being seriously considered?

The author is a Columbia College junior majoring in justice. He is a former SpecSucks editorial page editor. 

To respond to this column, or to submit an op-ed, contact thecloakedmask@gmail.com.


9 Responses to “op ed from one of our opinion columbnists”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Great stuff. Couldn’t agree more. Spec was founded in 1877 because of harsh corrpution at the time that said Spec and Bwog needed to be segregated. Now by continuing that segregation almost 125 years later, aren’t we just celebrating a tradition founded on corruption?

    • Anonymous Says:

      Columbia is a tradition founded on corruption. Should we just shut the whole thing down?

    • Anonymous Says:

      As a specster i am happy to admit I was denied from Bwog so i picked spec instead as a backdoor in. I am 100% sure some (not all) other specters also pulled the same stunt. Lets just admit it and wear it proudly as a badge!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Why would we dilute Bwog’s genius with an influx of stupid Specscum???

    GPA under 2.8 is just like Bwog, amirite?

    • Anonymous Says:

      I have a 3.9 and I chose Spec over Bwog. The fact that you’re a grown ass (I’m assuming) man who still defines your worth by your GPA says a lot about how easy my decision was.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Typical Bwog Math: “Wow, I got a 3.8 GPA and chose Bwog over Spec. That means that all Specsters students are just as smart as Bwoggies and we can just ignore actual statistics and the fact that 25% of Specster girls got a gpa below 2.8 (by the way, doing that poorly requires not understanding algebra, geometry, or addition).”

      More typical Spec comments: “Boo you are defining yourself by your GPA. What kind of adult does that? You must be so immature! God, Bwoggies suck! They only care about prestige and scores and things like that.”

      My response: The only kind of person who would choose Spec over Bwog and not be an idiot in doing so would be an upper-upper middle class white girl, who has nothing to fear for the future because her family has connections, so she doesn’t need the top prestige. Let me tell you: I am an chinese male who got a 2390 SAT score. My family is extremely poor. My parents run a fucking laundry. I have an obligation to them to be as successful as possible, to be a top journalist, because that way I can support them in their old age so that they don’t have to inhale fucking toxic perc until they are in their 90s. My family has no connections here. We lifted ourselves up on our own bootstraps.

      Let me tell you: when you say that you chose a path that is less prestigious and less assured of success, you are being incredibly classist and not appreciating those who worked amazing hard to get here.

      I am not the same anonymous as the first poster, but I agree with him completely: Specsters are either dumb, rich, or (most of the time) both.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Just took my daughter to the info meeting and tour at Spec and Bwog. I noticed that Spec’s physical plant is in a state of disrepair. The walls of the pinkberry are in need of a fresh coat of paint. Even the fake plants in the halls looked terrible. It looked like Spec was going to be going out of business in a few years. In addition, while there where around 50 people at the Spec info sesion, there where many hundreds at the Bwog sesion.

    I think Spec and Bwog will merge because Spec has no money.

  4. anonyMOUSE Says:

    very good article

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