Access for student journalists a right

Media access for student journalists shouldn’t be considered a privilege—or a novelty. It’s a right. 

Earlier this month, The Journal reported on attending a Doug Ford press conference despite initially being told by one of his staffers there wouldn’t be one. 

The Premier-designate made two Kingston campaign stops on June 3. When asked whether Ford would be available to media after the first event, a staffer of his told The Journal the leader was “very busy” and unavailable for questions. 

Subsequent to the event, we learned from a person in attendance that Ford would be headed to the Royal Legion Branch 560 to visit with military veterans. Neither his social media pages nor his campaign website disclosed the visit. 

When we arrived, it was apparent that Ford would in fact be holding a press conference. 

I would be remiss to say we weren’t informed because of our being a student paper. We certainly weren’t told such. But being misled or denied media access disrespects our mandate as a credible news outlet.  

The Journal asked Ford about his plan regarding tuition affordability. His answer spanned over two minutes and entirely failed to mention the word “tuition.” 

A given in journalism, for better or worse, is someone giving an answer to a question you may not have expected or hoped for. And to be fair, it’s well in their right.  The Premier-designate took our question—how he chose to respond was up to him. 

But the principle of our question going entirely unanswered remains troubling.

Our job as reporters is to objectively pursue the truth and render readers a factual account in our coverage. We can ask for honesty from a person who's of the greater public’s interest—so, too, should we should demand it. But we first have to land a seat at the table. 

Doing that hasn’t proved as easy as it should, and it’s something we’ve seen before. 

In 2014, Queen’s Athletics temporarily pulled The Journal’s media credentials to attend and report on home games after publishing a story critical of the department’s voting process for varsity team of the year.

Instances like these insinuate student journalists aren’t of value, or that we’re unworthy of trust among the people and institutions we cover.  

This isn’t to say denied media access for student journalists is a rampant problem—it’s just a problem. It happens. And why it does is concerning. 

Student publications don’t just serve their respective campuses. They serve communities and people who care. Treating them as anything but a credible news source sets a dangerous precedent. 

Sebastian is one of The Journal’s Editors in Chief. He’s a fifth-year philosophy major. 

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