Why student journalism should matter to you

This fall student press could cease to exist

“It’s like the cheese slipped off the cracker with these guys and they just went far-left.”

That’s what Doug Ford said about journalists at the Manning Centre networking conference on March 23.

“Certainly the editorial stance of some publications is staunchly or established in left but that doesn’t mean that the news reporting is overtly biased in that direction,” said Jack Denton, editor-in-chief for The Varsity at The University of Toronto.

Ford also said that he is circumventing the media with his own social media.

The Ontario News Now website is a great example of how the provincial government is trying to avoid traditional mainstream media. Denton said that the website appears to be partisan-run propaganda. 

“Of course he’s going to see what he wants to see. And a lot of the stuff that’s reported on his government may not be as favoured as it is for most governments,” said Erik Preston, president of the Canadian University Press (CUP).

Preston said that it is dangerous to expose oneself only to the ideas that they’re comfortable with. In doing so, one cannot expand their horizons or understand the other side’s point of view.

Journalism has always been viewed as a pillar of democracy, and student journalism is no different.

Student journalists strive to cover topics that are not featured in mainstream media. Denton noted that student papers are often the only media outlets that hold their institutions and student unions accountable. He also noted that they cover student stories that would go uncovered in mainstream media.

For example, The Eyeopener, a campus newspaper at Ryerson University, was the first publication to report on the suspicious spending irregularities of Ryerson’s student union. This led to a forensic audit of $700,000 in questionable expenses after approximately $250,000 in credit charges were made to places like the LCBO, a shisha lounge and Casino Rama. 

At The Dialog in 2019 alone we have covered many stories from marginalized perspectives, such as our coverage of important campus events like Islamic Awareness Week at GBC, or finding unique points of view such as a student who made a virtual reality documentary about being a transgender man or a single parent’s experience being a student at the college.

These are stories that would not see the light of day in mainstream media, and that makes sense. Why would CP24 care about what’s going on at GBC when they have to write content that will be relevant for all of Toronto?

This is why it is so important for student journalism to exist, but with the Student Choice Initiative it is very likely that student journalism in Ontario will take a huge hit in the fall term.

Student journalists cover stories that may not be what the provincial government wants you to see, such as their ten per cent cut to tuition that actually meant the elimination of free tuition loans for low-income students as well as the abolition of the six-month interest-free grace period.

“If you get rid of the people reporting on them then those stories might not necessarily come to light. And then there might be more corruption that goes unreported,” said Preston.

In short, student journalism is needed to shine a light on the unheard voices of the college, but also to cover important news that affects students directly because it may not be covered in mainstream media.

Think critically, get your news from multiple sources, but most importantly do not rely on biased sources like Ontario News Now for relevant information on your government.

They’re just putting out what they want you to hear.

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Why student journalism should matter to you