Student journalists are journalists. They should be recognized as such.

Cassidy McMackon

Despite the important news coverage provided by student-operated publications, student reporters often face hurdles in being recognized as legitimate journalists.

Student journalists provide coverage of local topics that are often overlooked by major news outlets. Where major news outlets like The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and CBC provide coverage on issues that are relevant both province- and nation-wide, student journalism focuses on stories that are vitally relevant to smaller communities.

This past year, The Ubyssey published a story on a University of British Columbia med student who provided public health information for racialized communities. The Fulcrum broke the story of a professor at the University of Ottawa using the n-word in lecture. The Gazette has provided coverage on continued poor living conditions in a major student housing complex.

Student publications also consistently provide coverage on larger topics that directly relate to students. These topics—including student mental health, racism and sexual violence on university campuses, and fair access to education during remote learning—are often left out of local news coverage.

In publishing stories that aren’t picked upby major news outlets or local newspapers, student journalism provides important coverage to a subset of people who rely on campus-sourced news.

Despite doing important work for their respective campuses and communities, student journalists aren’t often recognized as such.

An article published last week by The Pigeon examined the ways in which university journalists have been turned away by story sources due to their positions as students. In my own experience providing coverage for The Journal, I was met with hostility and accused of disrespecting a professor earlier this year when reporting on the ARTH 292 course that was cut in half by six weeks.

When government organizations and professors alike dismiss student journalists, it fosters a contempt for local journalism. By denying student reporters the access to information they need, professionals effectively create a barrier for students who rely on university publications for information about Queen’s.

This also fosters a sense of elitism within the industry; brushing away student journalists negates the importance of university papers and news.

Whether reporting on stories that are overlooked by major news outlets or reporting on events that directly impact local communities, student journalists are often the ones to pick these stories up first.

 Cassidy is a fifth-year Philosophy student and one of The Journal’s Assistant News Editors.

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