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21st September 2018

Student journalism is our best political engagement

Student journalism offers students a unique opportunity to engage with political issues, writes Megan Ritichie, who feels we should value this unique opportunity more.
Student journalism is our best political engagement
Photo: Pixabay

Arguably, our generation has a habit of often being passive when it comes to politics, our opinions, and current affairs. Perhaps, too often, we take what we see on the news and on our phones at face value and believe it. However, today more than ever in the era of fake news and the ever-changing political landscape of the world, it is so important we look up from our screens, look around, and speak out. Let us ask questions, let us debate, let us express opinions, and let us dig deeper. Student journalism provides the perfect opportunity to do this.

As students we have a unique opportunity to explore our right to free-speech; campus newspapers, like The Mancunion, should be platforms for encouraging individuals to use their independent voices and explore their own opinions. For many, University will be the first time they engage in political issues. Therefore, as institutions, Universities should encourage as much student-to-student discussion outside of the lecture and seminar halls as possible.

Reading or writing for student news does not have to be a step into a career in journalism, rather it is open to anybody that has something to say. Just like national newspapers question the elite and hold them publicly accountable, it is important that we challenge the most powerful on campus. The decisions made at the top affect us all and our voices need to be heard. This is exemplified by the coverage of the UCU strikes which were poorly reported by the broadsheets.

It is not all just politics and strong opinions though, student journalism is extremely broad. This breadth and freedom is so uncommon and so it must be used and valued. We have freedom of the press in the UK and yet 71% of our national newspapers are owned by just 3 companies. Student journalism, however, offers much greater freedom with student newspapers providing a range of views and beliefs all in one publication.

I think it is fair to say that most of us take our ability to share an opinion, no matter what that may be, for granted. We are so fortunate to live in a country where freedom of speech is a human right that is respected and promoted. Nowadays it is so easy to create petitions online, post our thoughts and opinions, and reach out to others to spread the word. This accessibility is particularly pertinent in cities as diverse as Manchester, with such a variety of beliefs and opinions on display.

Student movements and student voices have the power to shape the future here on campus and beyond. With all of the opportunities and technology our generation has, we have the tools to create change. Let us put them to use. Instead of bottling up our thoughts and opinions we must put pen to paper and fingers to keyboards. Words are power and we must use them.

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