I remember when I first attended university, I was astounded by the number of societies devoted to the publication/spread of news and comment. I was practically spoilt for choice as I wandered into the exhibition, like a duckling without its mother, trying to find a place that would set me on course to my dream job, media and journalism. I have now had the pleasure of working for Nouse for two years and that time has been highly enjoyable and engaging. Above all, however, it has taught me the value of competition in student media. Whether it be at a highly contested election or competition, when we distribute on campus, competition is necessary for Nouse and other outlets to grow.
Nouse has sadly been one of the only newspapers that has distributed print editions in recent months with the recent complications at York Vision. This has meant that we have been to some extent unopposed on campus. This is bad for students as one of the key aspects of university is the diversity of opinions afforded by not only lecturers but by media outlets. Nouse only stands for a cross section of 135 writers in a large and diverse university. We can only publish within our financial means and therefore in terms of opinions, we can’t catch them all. That’s why a newspaper requires competition in order to guarantee that the mood of the students at the University does not go unnoticed. The student community deserves another group of eyes on the story so that the narrative never goes unchallenged. Without competition, Nouse’s monopoly will not be a report on the news of the day, it will become unchallenged, the only “news”.
University life is often seen as the prelude to the ‘real world’ and campus media are part of that. In a world where the newspaper can leap into the extremes of the political underworld, I hope that students attend university on the metaphorical fence in politics. We need to guarantee that students leave university with a broader political horizon than they came with. This means that Nouse and others can be the bridge between the campus news and the national. You can go to the Guardian, you can go to the Mail, but it was student media that got you there. With only Nouse in the mix, the coverage and comment can be one-sided. That is why Nouse comment is reaching out to all parts of the political spectrum, but without a counterbalance to us, I don’t think that it will be enough.
What’s more is another newspaper other than Nouse means that all the writers and editors of Nouse will strive to make the newspaper better. A fighter will not train to the next level if he is the sole king of the field. Students should demand the best from their university and by extension they should hold media societies to account; other media societies are in a prime position to do that. Even though I am an editor in Nouse, for the good of the paper, I think its hegemony must end and end quickly.
So what can be done? Obviously Nouse can’t be split in two and form into east and west by way of an Iron Curtain. YUSU needs to stimulate media societies to innovate their papers and other media platforms. Of course these new investments must come with strings attached because societies need the incentive to publish instead of resting on laurels in the form of online views. The news outlets on campus must be diverse in outlook and must compete with each other to improve. This is in order for students to choose their media source with confidence in their reliability and quality. It is ultimately up to students to get involved in student journalism on campus in order to make both us and our media rivals better. Besides, it’s never fun to play volleyball with yourself. You always win, but somehow you always lose.