Attacks on student journalism only reinforce its necessity

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Covering difficult campus issues will always put a damper on student publications’ popularity—but they shouldn’t be attacked for doing their job.

The University of Ottawa’s student newspaper, The Fulcrum, was recently the victim of a cyberattack wherein their entire online archive—representing more than a decade of work—was deleted.

The hack comes 11 months after The Fulcrum’s 2018 investigation into fraud allegations against the school’s student union.

This attack highlights the widespread distrust of student journalism on campuses and the publications’ increasing vulnerability.

The Fulcrum was able to recover most of their pieces, but the online newspaper nearly lost more than 3,000 articles. These articles act as institutional memory for the publication and the community as a whole.

Students may be tempted to take attacks like that on The Fulcrum lightly, but in doing so, they fail to consider the impact student journalism has on communities. 

Student newspapers are to campuses what major commercial news outlets are to the public: they keep readers informed and educated about events touching their lives, and hold politicians and organizations responsible for their actions.

However, unlike larger publications, many student newspapers lack the financial and practical resources to defend themselves from attacks, leaving them susceptible to the whims of aggravated readers.

Cyberattacks, office egging, angry Tweets—independent media outlets are subject to countless forms of creative criticism. But retaliation toward journalism is only indicative of its reach and capacity to inspire conversation.

While the attempt to censor the work of The Fulcrum can’t be tolerated under any circumstances, it’s a reminder of the influence of student publications. 

It may seem cathartic to throw an egg or two if you have an opposing take on an issue presented in the paper, but it’s far more productive to voice that opinion in a direct and respectful manner.

Like all campus newspapers, The Journal strives for equity and transparency. We work diligently to provide the Queen’s community with not only relevant coverage and insight, but also an outlet for everyone to speak their mind about important topics.Readers are encouraged to share their opinions, whether through submitting an opinion piece or a letter to the editor. 

Student journalism is an essential part of campus life. Without these publications, there would be no source devoted to covering student governments, university administrations, and campus initiatives. At their foundation, student newspapers provide accountability for organizations otherwise unscrutinized.

Most importantly, student journalism is a platform for university communities to make their voices heard in a safe and courteous way.

As a reader, you’ll inevitably come across a piece of writing you don’t agree with. It’s vital that, even when we hold different opinions, we forge dialogue rather than trying to silence opposing views.

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