An open letter to members of the AMS

By Jessica Fishbein, Assistant News Editor

About this time last year, defying all my cautious optimism and wildest expectations, I was hired as an Assistant News Editor for the Journal. This continues to baffle me and I am eternally grateful to Tyler Ball and Rachel Kuper for taking a gamble and giving me this opportunity, given the fact that I had no prior experience writing for the Journal.

I think at this point it is fair to say that this “job” has changed my life.

This year, I have been given a chance to explore new opportunities I had never known existed. This experience has allowed me to hear the views of some of the most intelligent people I have ever had the privilege of meeting, let alone working with, in my life. It has made me confident in my own abilities and made me realize, as cliché as it is, that with hard work and determination, what I want to do with my life is within my grasp.

Perhaps the most rewarding part of my job, however, is how much it has opened my eyes to new issues; issues that I wasn’t aware of before and wouldn’t have known about if this job weren’t available to me. Apparently, having the ability to learn so much about a wide range of new things is one of the best parts of being a journalist, and from my experience I can now 100% agree. By nature we don’t know everything, so we get to learn all that we can from our interview subjects, who are the real experts.

I seriously believe that if this motion is passed, the incoming News Editor's experience at the Journal will have the possibility of being severely restricted, and other students will not be lucky enough to have the same experience as I did.

I respect what the AMS does and have nothing but reverence and astonishment at the amount of time and effort that is put in by its dedicated staff into all of its important initiatives and endeavours. I wholeheartedly support the sentiment that students deserve to know about the happenings within the AMS and faculty societies.

However, if the motion is passed, I fear that the incoming Assistant News Editors’ learning experiences could be much more limited to only reading about happenings within the AMS.

Perhaps what everyone fails to realize is that News only receives so much space in the newspaper. There are other things students undeniably want and should be able to read about, such as Editorials, Dialogue, Arts and Entertainment, and much more.

What were to happen if we were given a quota on how much to report on AMS and faculty societies that we would have to fill? What would happen if there were potentially bigger issues facing students that we wouldn’t be able to report about, because it didn’t fall into one of these quota categories? Would these sections listed above no longer exist?

My worries lie in what the implications of such a survey could be. It makes me wonder why the AMS wants to conduct a report on our content, if or how this report will be analyzed, and what actions will be taken after this analysis? In my mind, presentation of such content will undoubtedly lead to the analysis of such content, and there is no way an analysis will remain unbiased.

I truly believe there is cause for worry because naturally, there are intentions behind everything—no data is collected just for the sake of collecting data. Why would this action be pointless?

More importantly, how are we supposed to remain unbiased as a newspaper if our publisher is telling us what we have to write about?

Not to be dramatic, but the fact that the AMS is attempting to remove this component is almost like censoring what we choose to write about.

It shows an inherent lack of trust from the student government to allow student journalists to do our job.

(I also find it personally offensive that I am not given this trust by my student representatives when I have sat for eight consecutive hours at AMS Assemblies listening to them debate issues in order to objectively report on it for students.)

Roberta Bondar, Paul Martin, Emily Haines, Bedouin Soundclash - these are just a few of the prestigious people my colleagues have had the chance to interview, due to the Journal’s editorial autonomy.

If the AMS deems after this audit that faculty societies are more important for students to read about, not only will student journalists be unable to have these amazing opportunities afforded to them, readers will also lose out.

At the end of the day we are a newspaper run by students. Myself and my fellow Assistant News Editors, Katherine-Fernandez Blance and Labiba Haque can only be physically responsible for covering so many events, and thus have to help make the decisions of what makes the paper each issue. It is natural for people to wish to read about what serves their own self-interests—even if it does speak to a sense of entitlement about what people deem is relevant to students—but not everyone is going to be happy 100% of the time.

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