Interfering & delegitimizing

By Andrew Stokes, Copy Editor

Initially, the AMS motion to audit the Journal didn’t worry me. It mandates Media Services Director Sarah Kwong to “...conduct an analysis of the content of AMS media during the current academic year and to subsequently report on the percentage of content that directly addresses student activities and events.”

This motion is seemingly benign: it appears to be a fact-finding mission—knowledge for knowledge’s sake. However, upon further consideration of the issue I changed my mind. My belief that it was a simple study without policy implications was nothing short of naïve.

There are only a few potential outcomes and none are desirable. First of all: the analysis is conducted and the Journal is found to be relevant to student life. In this case the audit was a waste of time, and there are no repercussions beyond lost time, energy and resources. The second outcome is that the Journal is found to report a percentage of news addressing student activities and events that is insufficient, and in this case there is no sequential action taken (again, an apparent waste of time, energy, etcetera). The third outcome is that the Journal is found to be insufficient and the AMS subsequently suggests or mandates that the Journal report more about student issues.

The trouble with the latter outcome is that it infringes on the Journal’s right to editorial autonomy—a constitutionally guaranteed right.

Losing autonomy is a serious problem that completely delegitimizes this publication and by association, our school. Editorial autonomy, in short, is a publication’s right to be free from interference. This includes the content and stories reported, as well as the stances taken on whatever issues are editorialized.

This motion does not directly remove the Journal’s right to autonomy, but it lays the groundwork whereby this autonomy could be eroded, and perhaps removed one day.

It’s a matter that concerns all members the Queen’s body; a frequent publication that reports the relevant goings on and holds elected officials accountable is a fundamental piece of a healthy democratic environment, including a university.

This is not a personal matter; it’s ideological. A publication is only responsible to its readers, and their concerns can be voiced in a way that is constructive, not damaging. There is an entire section of the paper dedicated to “Dialogue,” and criticism is welcome, as it helps point the direction in which the Journal can grow and improve.

Our publication is not beyond reproach, but to question the relevance of our content is a slight to the entire operation. One need look no further than the front page to see stories that address student activities and events. The issue on March 18 features stories regarding Queen’s response to the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan, student governments’ responses to the rector controversy and success of the women’s hockey team, to name a few.

The potential that has the Journal worried is if we as a whole are refused the right to report on these events and instead report what the AMS decides for us.

We are a relatively small operation with limited resources, but we welcome criticism. If you feel that we missed an important event, or that our coverage was in some way lacking, please let us know. When the readers want improvement, we will endeavor to improve; after all, we want to report the stories that matter to you.

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