Student journalists & leaders should recognize their shared purpose

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Student journalism is an essential service that student governments must respect—but respect goes both ways.

University newspapers often have fraught relationships with the student unions that own them. This is perhaps unsurprising, considering university newspapers carry the responsibility (and burden) of reporting on these groups.

The AMS funds and oversees The Journal. Journal employees are AMS employees. The AMS provides access to resources like Dayforce, and supports in hiring, training, long-term planning, and financial matters. However, complete editorial autonomy is guaranteed under the AMS Constitution and Journal policy.

Similarly, The Western Gazette is owned and operated by the University Students’ Council, their student government. CBC is funded by the federal government; they received $1.24 billion in 2021-22. Both have editorial independence from their respective benefactors.

Rest assured: these are all good things. Governments—federal and student alike—fund journalism because people must have access to it free of charge. It is essential to keeping them informed about what’s happening and, frankly, to democracy.

In 2020, during the height of COVID-19, The Journal reported on how to get tested—information that wasn’t easily accessible elsewhere. In 2021, we exposed issues surrounding graduate students’ pay, work, and mental health. In 2022, we dug through legal jargon to uncover lawsuits against Queen’s.

Student journalists do important work and deserve to be recognized for it. Student unions support and fund student papers because they are essential in educating the student population and holding campus organizations accountable. This relationship must continue; it is paramount the AMS continues to respect The Journal in this way.

Likewise, student papers like The Journal must continue to respect the student unions that give them their lifeblood. Our student leaders do important, tough work, too. They represent Queen’s students to the best of their ability, advocating to the University on their behalf. The job is no joke.

The AMS supplies our health and dental plan. It provides paid on-campus jobs to hundreds of students. It oversees Queen’s record number of clubs. It runs vital services like Common Ground and the Printing & Copy Centre.

Student journalists must hold student leaders accountable—they must ask the hard questions, dive deep, and ensure promises are being fulfilled—while respecting their work in the process. Above all else, we must respect student leaders as people.

Queen’s is a small place. You run into people at the library, at Starbucks, and Metro. You might have class with someone you’re writing about. There’s no point in making enemies because nothing but good comes from being kind.

The AMS is not a monolith; it’s a group of eighteen-to-twenty-one-year-olds just like us.

Student journalists and student leaders don’t need to dislike each other. They need to recognize each other as peers and remember their common purpose: serving students.

Julia is a fourth-year English student and The Journal’s Managing Editor.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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