The yearly review of why student journalism is still important
Looking back over the past few volumes of The Strand, one may notice a common theme among the final editorials offered by each outgoing EIC. One tends to offer a heartfelt, teary-eyed reflection of the past year, while the other talks about how we, as student journalists, are somehow Still Relevant. As you can see, my colleague Alexandra has covered the former in her above article (thanks for the shout-out, buddy!) As a result, I will be discussing the latter.
One of the most important things I have come to realize about university is an immensely powerful place, one where you have the chance to really make a difference and make your voice heard outside of your day-to-day studies. Though this may sound cliché, it is true now more than ever.
This is my fifth year here at UofT. Looking back over my time here, the world has changed considerably. When I started here in 2012, Rob Ford was only halfway through his term as Mayor and shit was juuuuuuust starting to hit the fan. Wind the clock forward to 2017, and in hindsight, that all seems so trivial.
From both a personal and societal perspective, 2017 has been fucking terrifying. With the end of my undergrad fast approaching, I’d be lying if I said that what lies ahead doesn’t terrify me: adulthood, entering the workforce permanently, realizing that I’ll ACTUALLY have to do my own taxes next year (how do you even do that?)
But upon considering the fact that the world had been essentially flipped on its head in the past year, it has become clear that there are much more important things to worry about. For example, the fact that refugees continue to cross borders en masse, seeking protection from various human rights abuses and environmental crises, while those who should be welcoming them continue to seek ways to expel them.
Or as a further example, a large group of citizens who make up Western societies feel their safety at risk in their own countries, mainly as a result of a resurgence far-right ideologies that seek to marginalize folks based on their race, gender or sexual orientation. Many think that Canada has remained relatively safe and separate from the wave of fascism and the “alt-right”, but also seem to forget that the Conservative party is currently selecting its new leader, who will take on Justin Trudeau and his “sunny ways” in 2019. While Michael Chong offer some reassurance that we are different, candidates like Kellie Leitch prove the exact opposite.
If there is a god, right now I’m picturing him as that meme of the kid stirring the pot with that big stupid smile on his face (For reference, see The Strand starter pack on page 6).
Through all of this, what has stood out above all is the immense importance that a fair, free, and responsible media has in today’s society. Fake news has been a central issue of 2017, a problem that we are forced to grapple with as the ability to differentiate between truth and fiction in the online sphere becomes ever more arduous.
As a result, I declare that We, the Student Journalists, are Still Relevant!
Outside of the intrinsic value of being able to experience the process involved in producing well researched, thorough, and fact-checked content for publication, student journalists provide a very important service to their peers. University campuses have always been bastions of forward-thinking, progressive movements. Progressive politics are often brought to fruition and into public discourse as a result of discussions that first take place on university campuses. Student journalists can, and often do play an integral part in this process.
In this age of debates over free speech, as what was once considered political extremism becomes mainstream, this ability that student journalists have becomes more and more important. It is one that we mustn’t forget, nor neglect. However, we depend on you, our readers, to offer us this opportunity and call us out when we fail to fulfill this responsibility.
We thank you for reading and sticking with us through Volume 59. In return, we promise to continue to do our best through Volume 60, and each volume after that.