A common problem

Just so you know: this page was imported from my old blog. Some pages were rather mangled in the process; my apologies if things don't quite look right.

(This post was originally published on my work blog)

It is strangely encouraging to see that, about the same time that Pugwash News was suffering its own dramas during issue 9 this year, Imperial College Union's Felix newspaper was suffering as a result of non-editorial pressure to censor itself.

This isn't going to be a rant - or any kind of discussion - about the role of independent student media within a parent students' union institution, but it is interesting to read the following comment:
"We decided not to take the "publish and be damned" approach because it is ridiculous that Editor after Editor, year after year, Felix should keep coming up against the same problems over censorship by the constitution.
"Felix is regularly faced with the question of whether it is allowed by the Union to publish its news stories that are in the public interest. This is what must change."
Pugwash News, and Pugwash Online (currently at upsu.net/news, but for how long?) will inevitably - if it is doing what it's designed to do - run into similar problems next year. This year has already seen several occasions where the publications have been specifically instructed not to publish, for a variety of reasons, stories which have been arguably in the public interest.
That's not to say that every story which was pulled was in the public interest, of course, but this year's introduction of a newspaper and larger news-orientated media team has led the Union into a lot of previously unchartered territory, and has naturally caused concern among some members as to the role of student media - should it be an unbiased source of incisive observation about the effectiveness of the Union and the University? Or is it ever right to play down the problems and bad news encountered by its parent institution?
While it is important for students' unions to act in the best interests of their membership, there are cases around the country where student media editors have questioned whether censorship has been thrust upon them appropriately, or whether it has been done to save face or due to an overcautious approach to information dissemination by their union, as is the case with the Felix article I mentioned above; for the sake of Portsmouth's students and the Union's media, I hope this never needs to happen again.
Two more days to go for me at Portsmouth, but the learning curve still continues...

Most-mentioned in the blog