Throughout this year, The Daily’s news team found it increasingly difficult to uphold our standards of accountability, due mainly to the University’s profound disrespect for student journalism.
Despite constant attempts to fairly represent the administration and contact administrators, the University has consistently criticized The Daily for not giving enough space to administrative positions.
Consider the source: interview requests to McGill are consistently directed to the designated administrative spokesperson of the week, not necessarily the administrator most qualified. We have yet to interview McGill Security Services, as agents will direct us to Associate Director Pierre Barbarie. Barbarie has not responded to an email, phone call, or in-person inquiry made by The Daily this year. To accuse The Daily of biased reporting while refusing to respond to interview requests, or providing an administrative comment as an afterthought, is hypocritical and damaging.
Furthermore, the lack of distinction between student journalists and students demonstrators on the part of the administration is frightening.
Two of our News editors were charged with disciplinary action after reporting on February’s occupation of the James Administration lobby. The editors present were lumped in with student demonstrators, despite differing roles. Journalistic practice allows for a variety of methods, but, ultimately, the story is always on the ground, which means that is where journalists – amateur or professional – need to be. For the University to question methods of reporting, and cause student journalists to think twice the next time they decide whether or not to report on a story, presents a threat to the freedom of campus media.
Not only do these actions go against the fundamental rights guaranteed to media in Canadian society, they fly in the face of the supposed principles of McGill; namely, fostering an exchange of information, upholding transparency, and offering support to students who work for the betterment of the campus community.
Our coverage creates a public record that assists students in formulating an informed understanding of McGill. Media pressures people and institutions to act, or at least appear, accountable – this is the service The Daily provides on campus.
McGill should understand that, like us or not, Daily reporters will always be on campus, watching and writing. McGill and The Daily will always be diametrically opposed in purpose; we don’t ask for approval. But we do expect that the publication, and its reporters, be treated with respect and decency.
—2011-12 Daily News editors