A farewell tribute to the Mancunion
By Ben Green
The Union’s ‘monster referendum’ is here and they’re casing for your votes on a great variety of matters. Many of the planned measures would undoubtedly improve the Union – the clause to allow online voting for policy motions would certainly increase the likelihood that any such motion could actually pass. Unfortunately, buried in the mass of by-laws and sub-clauses is a restructuring of the Union Executive and student media which will, if passed, be the end of this august publication as we know it. Alarmist? Possibly, but unfortunately this is the case.
One of the proposed by-laws (“Executive Committee By-Law”) will remove the post of a full-time, paid Mancunion editor, whilst a second by-law (“Media Charter and Media By-Law”) would see the creation of a ‘Student Media Group’ beholden to the Union Executive, rendering whatever remains of the paper independent in name only. So what is the suggested alternative? Members of the Executive have indicated that the editor will be replaced by a current student. They are expecting a student to take on the full-time job of editing a 32-page newspaper, containing in excess of 100 articles every week, with duties including liaising with the design team, chasing deadlines, running editor’s meetings and ensuring the paper is actually printed.
They are expecting somebody to do this not only whilst maintaining their studies, but for free. Our editor is here at nine o’clock every morning and does not leave until five in the evening, often later. Running a newspaper is a full-time job; it is not a society commitment that can fit around more important things, like studying. Even if by use of some miraculous Bernard’s Watch-type device, a student were able to find the time to work a nine-to-five job around their studies, there will inevitably come the point where they have the option of completing an essay / studying for an exam or making the paper come together that week. Quite rightly, in such a circumstance, the paper will always lose.
Fortunately, the Executive seem to have this covered in the aforementioned Student Media Group by-law, where cryptic reference is made to the Mancunion editor’s responsibility to publish a ‘regular’ newspaper. Note that it does not say ‘weekly’. In realising that heaping all of the editor’s work and responsibilities on some hapless student is absurd, the Executive begun to vaguely mention a ‘media intern’. The idea here being that, instead of paying the editor to do their job and run the newspaper, the Union will instead pay the media intern (whatever that means) to do all of the actual work, leaving the student editor free to make editorial decisions.
It is clearly understood that the job of running a newspaper cannot be done by a current student – the Executive evidently accept that it is a full-time job, and that it must remain as such. Yet, bizarrely, they intend to remove the editor and replace them with a paid intern and in so doing not even save money. The upsides to the Executive are obvious; without a Mancunion editor on the board and with the de-facto editor a Union employee instead, they will be able to exercise control over the paper, killing any unfavourable stories and turning this paper into a Union propaganda pamphlet.
I should point out here that the proposed Student Media Group would not only give the Executive control over the Mancunion, but over all student media – Fuse FM and Fuse TV as well.
It is because of these proposals that I and the other Mancunion editors will be abstaining from voting in the referendum. 1,000 votes (of which 501 must be ‘yes’) are needed in order for the referendum to pass. Our best chance of stopping its passage and ensuring the continuation and continued excellence of this paper is by not voting. So now I urge everybody reading this: please do not vote in the Union referendum. Sadly, it is the only way to save your student paper.
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