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The Ombusdman Join The Tech

In my first week as ombudsman, I received several complaints from readers. In response, I reported these complaints to writers and editors. More effective than anything I can do to solve the problems of this paper, however, is something that you can do: join The Tech.

Unlike Tech Talk, The Boston Globe or New York Times, anyone is welcome to add their time and talents to this paper. The Tech isn’t reader-generated (a la Slashdot or Abuzz), but it offers the rare opportunity for readers to directly influence the paper by becoming a part of it.

Take our web site as an example: I’ve received several comments about delays, broken links, and errors associated with it. A running joke in the office is that The Tech’s site was one of the first 100 on the web and hasn’t changed much since. It’s funny because, for the most part, it’s true.

The site isn’t in such poor condition due to a lack of resources or will but because of a lack of manpower. While readers should expect a quality web presence and shouldn’t be required to donate their own time to be able to read the paper on line, for those readers who are interested in seeing a better web page: The Tech is happy to have your help.

This column certainly is not the first exhortation to join The Tech to appear in this paper: lighthearted ads touting free food and “openings in all departments” have dotted these pages since I can remember. In all seriousness, though, The Tech’s open recruitment policy gives you the chance to use your talents, time, and dedication to make this paper better and to thus have a real impact on the MIT community.

A movement is afoot in a public mailing list to found a new student publication to serve as a voice for student activism, a role that those involved feel is neglected by The Tech. Rather than starting from scratch, or perhaps resurrecting Institvte, those spearheading this movement should take advantage of this paper’s willingness to respond to its readership by playing real and substantive roles in its production and direction. Why found a new publication when, if support for such a paper is truly widespread, you can change the direction of the oldest, best-established and most- read MIT publication?

Many of the problems with this paper -- a perceived bias against fraternities and sororities, spotty coverage of local and national issues, a near-total lack of attention paid to science at MIT (although a fledgling section is in the works) -- can only be remedied with the help of future staffers who are now but readers. If this paper wishes to continue to advance and to truly serve the diverse community in which it publishes, it needs the assistance of the diverse backgrounds, situations, and personalities of the members of that community.

Working for The Tech is not without rewards of a more personal nature, however. After “MIT’s oldest and largest newspaper,” the closest thing The Tech has to a slogan is “MIT’s school of journalism.” Reporting and writing news stories is an important skill, one that complements MIT’s technical education well. In addition, I would be remiss in not mentioning the numerous perks and amenities that The Tech provides its staffers (which often draw the ire of less well-funded student groups).

The suggestion that those unhappy with the paper do something to improve it is not meant to deflect criticism: any comments or complaints can be sent to the address below.

However, for those who think that they have the time and talent to make the The Tech a better publication, stop by our offices on the fourth floor of the Student Center any Sunday night at 5 p.m. Dinner will be served, as usual.

Frank Dabek is the ombudsman of The Tech. Complaints, questions, or concerns about this paper should be addressed to him via e-mail at