Public editor position is a first step towards transparency & trust

In a world where newspapers are struggling to maintain a trusting relationship with their readership, the new public editor position at The Varsity is a step towards rebuilding that broken bridge.

In a statement explaining why The Varsity would be introducing Sophie Borwein as their first Public Editor, Editor in Chief Alex McKeen wrote that “news media organizations must constantly reaffirm their commitment to journalistic standards.”

In her own introductory statement, Borwein wrote that her job is to “hold the newspaper accountable for its promise to … report the news comprehensively, accurately, and fairly at all times.”

The Journal spends a lot of time making decisions about how we’re going to write about campus issues. We toil over word choice and we’re always wondering how we can best achieve our main goal — to keep Queen’s aware and informed.

Often, this work means we push various members of the Queen’s community to be as transparent as possible with us and the community at large. But as we try to maintain the impossible balance between being students and putting out a paper we’re proud of, transparency should be a goal we strive for as well.

A public editor position is a step towards that transparency. It may not mean much to the average student, but in the age of fake news and the ability to post anything online and call it credible, a public editor can evolve to combat that — it can work to ensure there isn’t a gaping hole between the paper and its readership.

While not all student newspapers have the resources and feasibility to introduce new positions to combat these issues, the public editor position sounds ideal for a university like U of T. With such a volume of voices, The Varsity is faced with a large task of representing all of them.  

Going forward, we’ll be interested, for our own sake and others, to see how exactly Borwein does the large and daunting tasks in her job description. How exactly will she hold The Varsity accountable and critique their work while also being a member of staff?

How will she bridge the gap between reporters and readership? Only time, and writing, will tell.

— Journal Editorial Board

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