As journalists, we have the responsibility to hold ourselves accountable. It is part of our mandate and our mission to ensure that we get our facts straight, and also be open about our mistakes.
While I understand at first read this editorial may come across as hypocritical, understand that this comes from a place of empathy and a want for growth for all campus journalism.
The Varsity, St. George’s campus paper, recently wrote an editorial criticizing The Underground, U of T Scarborough’s campus journalists, for their “undue sensationalism of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) elections.”
Reading through the piece made me question the motivation behind it. I understand that it’s crucial for journalists to hold themselves accountable, however, it isn’t the job of journalists to take down or completely drag down other journalist outlets in an attempt to “hold them accountable.”
Our work as journalists is never about an “Us vs. Them mentality”. We all carry the same mission. Each journalist outlet produces their content in different ways. The Toronto Star nor the Globe and Mail ever go after each other for their mistakes. Reason being, they address their own mistakes knowing full-well the consequences of their actions
It’s about context, and as we journalists know all too well, there is always a story behind the story. Sources fall flat, interviews are cancelled, sources would rather not go on the record, blockades are hit, etc. There is no easy way around it, journalism is a tough job to embark upon, and stories take time to get out.
Every journalist outlet is prone to their mistakes. The Medium, The Varsity, The Underground, we all fail, but we all understand what failure means for the improvement of our work.
To The Varsity, you are correct in saying that with the provincial government’s Student Choice Initiative poses a serious threat to the financial stability of the student press. We shouldn’t resort to using the editorial section as a means to drag down fellow colleagues.
As The Underground stated in their piece, “If your objective was to offer constructive criticism, then we feel that a private forum would have been more appropriate for these discussions.” This is a legitimate and open way to address concerns. Our editorial portions of our papers are not for that discussion. Again, I completely understand that it could be viewed as hypocritical on my end with this piece, but the intention is not aimed to point fingers at who is “right” and who is “wrong”.
Discourse among journalists is essential to our growth. Taking it out on each other without having an open discussion is a failure of good journalism within our organizations. We hold our own accountable, and operate on budgets that reflect our communities. We cannot pit ourselves against one another, especially in times where our futures are so uncertain. Otherwise it becomes a battle of “who can convince the student body to opt-in to us.” That should never be the intention.
We have to speak to one another, and we have to engage with each other. Be critical, but also realize that all student journalism stands at various levels in their growth, and it is important to allow mistakes and growth to happen all at the same time. That is the whole idea behind coming to university isn’t it?
We each represent our individual campuses, and not one publication holds their own umbrella over ours to ensure that we “do our jobs.” We cover stories across the U of T campuses as well as focusing on our own, and to have that opportunity is not as accessible to other journalist outlets. The Medium isn’t a tri-campus paper either, but we remain strung to our UTM community, just as any other journalist outlet should.
Campus journalism is at a risk, and ego’s will not get us far. We have to remain vigilant and open to discourse amongst each other and encourage our growth.
We are journalists, we have a job to do. Don’t waste whatever time we have on means to drag each other through the dirt.
Spread awareness of journalism, accept your mistakes, embrace your failures, and keep campus journalism alive.