It’s hard to believe that 2018 has already come and gone. I like to play a game with myself, and sometimes friends, where I try to recount all the madness that has gone on since 2018 began.
Tide Pods. Black Panther. DJT siding with Putin over American intelligence. Aretha Franklin. A super blue blood moon. The New York bomb interceptions. The Toronto van crash. Doug Ford. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. A formal wake-up call from the scientific community about climate change. Winter Olympics in South Korea. Children in cages. Anthony Bourdain. March for Our Lives. Infinity War. Stan Lee. Bata Library. Christine Blasey-Ford. Diane Therrien. The boys trapped in a cave in Thailand. The Unist’ot’en Camp versus Prime Minister Trudeau. Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson (yes, I said it — thank u, next). Serena Williams. The Danforth shooting. Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing. Canada legalizes cannabis. Brazil’s National Museum fire. The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Stephen Hawking. The Trans Mountain Pipeline.
That’s certainly not exhaustive, not in chronological order, and not quite a word association either. I forgot about 40% of that happened this calendar year. Isn’t it funny how the zeitgeist now moves like a poltergeist? Both in its brief terror and disappearance. Ah, well.
All jokes aside (if you even consider this funny), there is something I would like to briefly chat about before the winter holidays: the free press.
If you want to stop reading now, I won’t be offended. Happy holidays!
Back to business:
The “fake news” moniker, the White House Correspondents Dinner backlash, praise for body-slamming reporters, the Capital Gazette newsroom shooting, Jamal Khashoggi, resignations over oppressive newsrooms — I imagine it goes without saying that this has not been a banner year for the press in North America.
It’s easy to imagine that all of this is only affecting big media, but that’s not the case. Recently, a MP began pursuing legal action against a university newspaper for “defamation.”
There is sometimes a strange double-standard applied to university newspaper reporting and journalistic merit. At the same time that university newspapers are expected to be taking the piss or making mistakes, somehow they are also powerful enough to consider severely maiming or even destroying entirely. Fake news or tour de force: which one is it really? Increasingly it depends on the person, the day, the time, the place, whether someone switched their 2% for soy milk in their Shreddies.
The complex reality is that it’s both: university papers are predominantly smaller-scale learning environments that also happen to largely be free of commercial or administrative control. Whether someone in the public sphere, especially a person who has consciously chosen to become a public figure, finds that threatening is more a reflection of their idea of what media should be, regardless of who runs it.
It’s been written before that this paper is likely the last bastion of independent free press in the city. Certainly that’s worth considering again, but it’s also worth considering that other university papers might be in a similar position. It’s not an easy one to be in, but it’s extremely fulfilling to persevere.
So, as editors, we extend our solidarity to The Gateway and the rest of the student university newspapers that aim to serve their communities under increasingly strenuous circumstances.
It’s been a rough year. And certainly we should all stay positive, but positivity does not mean complacency. A key part of positivity, I find, is knowing your power and acting within that power to make things better.