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A writer is what they write, which is why opinions really matter.

PUBLISHED: 15:45 01 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:45 01 February 2018

Liam Heitman-Rice is a writer and student at UEA.

Liam Heitman-Rice is a writer and student at UEA.

MaskaRad

What does a writer do? A writer writes.

And a writer is what they write; every word, printed on a page in type-12 font.

The identity of a writer is formed by their body of work – that which seizes their interest, the issues they wish to discuss, the opinions they themselves hold or absorb from others.

Contained within our field of interest is the geography of our personality, and our opinions guide us through it like a compass.

We are led by what we believe, and we create or pursue those things we believe to be worth our time and attention. True, opinions are like socks – everyone has them, and some are full of holes – but that does not diminish their importance.

I say this because I am currently enrolled in a class which explores the identity of a writer. It was while discussing the increasingly opinionated nature of print media that the question was raised, “Why do opinions matter?”

As a columnist, it is my business to defend the merit of opinions. The issues that matter to me are based significantly on opinions.

I believe it is a product of my environment that I should pursue such an interest in the discussion and exploration of others’ thoughts.

As a student at UEA, I am at the centre of an institution renowned for its literary prestige, with its own independent newspaper, Concrete, and an annual creative writing anthology compiled, edited and published by the university’s students.

Take into account, also, that Norwich is a UNESCO City Of Literature and it is unsurprising that I should seek my own platform within this literary landscape.

My environment fosters and encourages the importance of print, where the news can be dissected and reappraised from multiple viewpoints, where a dynamic student body is granted the opportunity to challenge beliefs and have their say.

In previous articles for this newspaper, I have explored issues ranging from the complexities of identifying within the LGBT community, the detrimental impacts of alcohol, the social pressures placed on university students, and the necessity of openly confiding one’s feelings in others. These are what I perceive as ongoing contemporary concerns, and it is when magnified through the lens of a newspaper that they can be afforded wider recognition.

Regarding opinion pieces, Kate Moorhead-Kuhn, 35, lecturer of Creative Writing at UEA, addresses the contention “that they have to be presented as opinion and not as news... because they aren’t news. Also, my general feeling about opinions is they are not relevant in any way to any discussion unless they are based on actual fact and lived experience.”

Kate proceeds to highlight what she perceives as the media’s control by CHWM (Cisgender Heterosexual White Males), who “tend to think their opinions on everything are relevant and deserve to be heard – because they’ve been conditioned to believe that – yet they aren’t and don’t.”

Relevance is a defining factor of the opinion piece. One cannot offer their account of what does not affect them.

Jack Ashton, 20, a student of Culture, Literature and Politics at UEA, is also Concrete’s Comment Editor.

“The nature of opinion pieces is becoming warped,” he believes, “especially with the idea of truth becoming relative, the result being people simply relying on everything to be opinion, not fact.” But Jack proceeds to defend the opinion piece as a tool which “at its core allows us a chance to respond to news, not just read it, and to shape the response of other people.”

Indeed this is his current role at UEA, where he is “lucky enough to edit the Comment section at an award-winning newspaper, meaning I get to both write opinion pieces and read an array of others, week in, week out.”

Our opinions matter because they inform our beliefs, and our beliefs drive what we say and what we write. And we are every word of what we write; for the body of work of the writer, is the writer.

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