We — by which I mean everyone in Britain; not just students — often take the advantages of a free press for granted. It rarely occurs to anyone who regularly watches the news or reads a newspaper how incredibly lucky they are to be able to do so, and for the same reason that noone ever thinks, ‘Goodness, how lucky I am to have access to margarine. Without margarine, this toast would be hard to swallow, much as daily events that affect my life would be difficult to comprehend without recourse to explanation and analysis of them.’
For anyone who works in a field even peripherally related to the news, though, the fear that this right — to news, not margarine — could be taken away is one that preys on the mind often. In the Guardian office, which operates as a branch of SRC media but (critically) remains editorially independent, we are constantly looking over our collective shoulder for any signs that our ability to report freely on student and university news may be about to be compromised or removed altogether.
And whilst the University of Glasgow should be proud of its continued support for a healthy student press, it is disappointing to learn that this ethos is not shared elsewhere in Scotland. The University of Aberdeen’s student newspaper, Gaudie, is now under the direct control of the President of the Students’ Association. Newspapers should not merely be a mouthpiece for local government, but this is effectively what Gaudie has become.
Students at Aberdeen have responded with an inspiring display of resilience by launching an alternative online news source, Vox Pop, and for their efforts they deserve not just praise, but the solidarity of their fellow student journalists. Good luck, Vox Pop!