We at The Utah Statesman spend a lot of time talking about access.
We’re well aware of the stereotypes surrounding our profession — we’ve all dealt with a student or faculty member who didn’t entirely trust us with a story’s facts for fear of being misquoted or misrepresented. We’ve seen and heard examples of the nosy reporter pointlessly digging for perceived dirt, and the disastrous effect that carelessness can have on perceptions of journalists and our role in all forms of media.
The Statesman editorial staff considers the level of access we’ve been granted to this university’s student government, athletics department and its various colleges to be fair and even favorable. The mutual respect that must exist between the newsroom and the organizations that make decisions on this campus exists here in Logan and allows us to accomplish our mission — to connect members of this community through accurate and compelling storytelling.
It has come to our attention that this access is not a privilege granted to every news outlet in our media neighborhood. Weber State University’s news writers at The Signpost recently published an editorial documenting their student government’s refusal to allow media members into meetings regarding the usage of student fees.
We see this not only as a blatant violation of The Signpost’s right to report on the decisions made behind those closed doors — as well as the decision-making process itself — but even moreso as a profound misunderstanding of a news outlet’s role on a college campus.
Student media is many things, but there are two things it is not.
First, we are not tabloids stirring up controversy where there is none. We aren’t the enemy of our student government or our universities. We do not leave the newsroom at night scheming and plotting our next flashy headline, or hoping for some catastrophe to strike. We are an enemy to hidden agendas and false pretenses. We love our schools, our athletics programs and our student bodies. We are storytellers who relish the beauty of the human experience and aim to portray that experience with factual precision. The exactness of reporting is its strength and we will not shy away from it.
Second, to echo The Signpost’s own editorial, we are not PR firms. Our role is not to shield the public from negative views or negative actions. We are not newsletters, filters or mouthpieces for the administration. We speak on behalf of all students, to inform all students. We strive to represent the voice of our collective campuses and to show the uncensored truth often hidden behind the scenes.
That’s the significance of access. With the ability to peek behind the curtain, we find the stories that prove inspirational, groundbreaking and perhaps the most worthwhile. We also uncover faults that need correcting, concerns in need of solutions, and every now and then those shadowy dealings that ought to have some light shed on them.
We sincerely hope our university continues to welcome media access and understand its role, and wish our neighbors to the south success in seeking that same understanding.
— The Utah Statesman