In establishing our future, we look to students for guidance
Off the top of your head, several of the main tenets of journalism are easy to identify: objectivity, accuracy, accountability, and transparency. Journalism seeks to prompt change and influence, while playing a crucial role in facilitating dialogue.
At first, this may seem like an unattainable status for a student paper. Our publication’s influence is too small and our reach is too little to strive for change. However, pressure from our organization and mobilization of the student community nonetheless has led to the betterment of our student community.
Just last year, the Concordia Student Union pushed to have pass/fail an option for each semester; with students petitioning for the resource. The Concordian covered students’ mental stress and need for a pass/fail system during the pandemic, with the Montreal Gazette following with their coverage of students’ stories from different universities on the issue. Before the end of the fall 2020 semester, Concordia announced they would implement the pass/fail system. The option allowed students to receive a pass or fail notation instead of a letter grade on their transcripts for one course.
This wasn’t our doing alone, neither do we take credit for the hours of work poured into advocating for such a change by the student leaders at our university. But we do strive to be a vehicle for change — to help students achieve their potential and promote the well-being of our community.
Outside of Concordia, earlier this fall semester Western University’s student publication Western Gazette broke the story on how several women were allegedly sexually assaulted during orientation week on campus. This prompted national coverage and thousands to walk out of the university in a mass protest against sexual violence on campus and to voice their support for the survivors. While investigations are still underway, this is an example where student media facilitated the accountability of the university to take action, and action against the possible transgressors.
Moreso, journalism must “strive to make the significant interesting and relevant,” according to The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. While this is a popular first-year reading for j-school students, it lays the foundation for how we will approach our future as a student publication.
In the coming months, we want to hear from students on what they look for in student media. We will seek to interact and engage with our main readership on how we can better fulfill our mandate as a student newspaper. While we will be the ones to reach out, we ask that students provide their feedback on what issues you would like us to explore, what kind of coverage is most important to you; in essence, what you want to see from us.
The fundamentals of our newspaper will remain the same, but The Concordian will strive to report on the concerns and interests most relevant and important to our student population. We are written for Concordia students, and we seek to honour that mandate.
Photograph by Alex Hutchins