A response to The Tab

Published

“We adhere to our own rule: to be on the side of the students.”

glasgowguardian

Alastair Thomas and Fraser McGowan
Editor

In most cases, we at The Glasgow Guardian make a rule of not responding to the criticisms that the Tab throws our way. It’s usually just not worth it. Take the Charity Fashion Show piece we did last year (and one of our proudest moments as editors of this newspaper): our article was a demonstration in how to do investigative journalism properly, in which we carefully built our story over the course of a number of weeks as more facts revealed themselves to us. Yet the Tab’s response scolded us for not recognising the show’s apparent success (in spite of its egregious waste of money) and pointed out that it was the show’s first year and so we should have gone easy on them. We won’t dwell on the fact that many people who work for the Tab are close friends with those on the Charity Fashion Show committee, but it’s true. And apparently we’re the biased ones.

But today, the Tab published an article directly attacking our conduct over this year’s student elections*, and it now feels appropriate to respond. But let’s start by clearing something up. An editorial is a piece written by the editors of a publication expressing their own opinions about a subject, and our editorial on both the Fashion Show and the student elections should be read as just that – our own opinion.

We mentioned bias earlier and it’s a word we’ve seen thrown around a fair bit in the last couple of days regarding our coverage. The Glasgow Guardian is not the BBC, we do not have to be completely impartial, nor do we have to adhere to any set of rules. We adhere to our own rule: to be on the side of the students. So when we express any sort of official opinion or take any stance on a subject, we do so not because of personal prejudice or biases, but because we genuinely think a certain candidate will serve students more effectively. Feel free to disagree with us on our opinion, but don’t tell us we’re being inappropriate when we offer up a particular stance, because we’re not. We’re an independent newspaper, not a school newsletter or a state broadcaster, and so we’re completely within our right to do what every other newspaper does – offer up our two cents over a political matter (just see any newspaper in any general election).

We should probably mention how the Tab refers specifically to the interview Alastair did with Robbie Miller, an interview in which we apparently ask questions that are “closed off and aggressive and topics of sexism are brought up that do not help to find out more about the candidate but rather create a slightly irrelevant and manipulative topic of discussion”. We think it’s completely relevant and in the public interest to ask a candidate if they’re suitable for a role when they are a member of an unapologetically sexist and misogynistic organisation like the Freemasons, especially when it’s a GUU position they’re running for.

The point of the two interviews we conducted was not to let candidates tell us about their manifestos – you can read their manifestos for that – but instead, we wanted them to be held to account. An interview shouldn’t be an easy ride; it should challenge those being interviewed. Maybe the Tab would prefer if we emailed the candidates questions and let them respond in their own sweet time.

Finally, the Tab tell us that “student journalism ought to have an unbiased and balanced approach towards controversial issues” yet never tell us why they think this should be the case. Even so, our coverage has never been biased in the sense in which they mean it. When we came out in support of UnaMarie and not Ameer, we gave simple reasons why, such as the fact Ameer’s Movember charity appeal actually lost money (which he kept quiet for months), that his manifesto was not as strong as UnaMarie’s and that we believed he did not have the right leadership skills. None of this is inappropriate.

Now, we won’t attack the Tab on the hypocrisy of them telling us we’re unethical or unprofessional. We won’t dwell on the fact that their own reporting is usually misinformed, puerile and often written with ulterior motives. All we will say is that we are proud of The Glasgow Guardian’s content and we believe that our journalistic principles of informing students, holding those in power to account and giving students opportunities to have their say over what matters to them are just as strong as ever.

Oh, and the Tab, go back to doing what you’re good at. We await your next Clubbers of the Week with bated breath.

*We would put a link directing you to their article but the readership their website receives merely funds the owners of the company.