Skip to content

EDITORIAL: Students behind bylines

It is time to reframe the perspective on student journalism

Student journalism is a vital part of the campus ecosystem, and the students behind the bylines should be treated with understanding and compassion. – Photo by Thought Catalogue /

The unique burden that student journalists carry is often overlooked in the bustling life of university campuses. As student journalists, our jobs can be fraught with challenges that regular journalists do not have to face — we are students first.

In the deeply divided world, the obstacles that student journalists must overcome become ever-present in our lives.

Delivering news, engaging in dialogue with community members, analyzing opinions and attending sporting events are just some of the tasks that student journalists juggle along with their responsibilities and primary role as students. It is a balancing act — one that is further constrained by the journalistic standards and stylistic conventions under which they must operate.

A frequent criticism of student journalists is not being present or on-site for every news event reported on or a lack of immediate response to these events. Both of these qualms fail to acknowledge the dual role of these students.

Other limitations placed on student journalists may not be immediately apparent to the broader community audience. Adherence to AP style is just one of the many editorial constraints that student journalists must follow, but this adherence can often have the effect of stripping the passion from emphatically opinionated pieces, demanding unwelcome neutrality.

Dissatisfaction about the language used, especially when covering sensitive topics like international conflicts, stems from the perception that that language is too passive or dilutes the severity of the issue at hand.

Furthermore, due to the structure of student journalism organizations, the output of articles is managed by only a handful of people, ranging from as little as one to a maximum of three editors per desk at The Daily Targum, for example. These editors are also full-time students, attending classes and completing assignments just like anyone else. It is simply not feasible to cover every on-campus event while maintaining accuracy and editorial standards.

The expectation that student publications should operate with the same efficiency and scope as established, professional outlets like The New York Times is not only unrealistic, but also unfair. Taking into account the fact that the majority of student journalists do not have any formal education in journalism or the topics they are reporting on, the idea that their small staffs are capable of responding with the same speed and accuracy while seamlessly balancing their student responsibilities is a misconception.

Within the community itself, students, professors and alumni often make criticisms, yet they may lack an understanding of the intricacies of publishing or journalistic integrity. Edits for precision and objectivity can be viewed as censorship, while minimal editing can be considered irresponsible or inflammatory, thereby creating a winless situation despite good intentions.

In the midst of these challenges, student journalism serves as a foundational platform for the voices of our University community. It provides new perspectives that uniquely resonate with professors and peers alike and offers invaluable experience for students looking to enter the field of journalism in their future careers.

The importance of student journalism lies in its ability to speak directly to its readers. Student journalists report on stories that are accessible and relatable, stories that established news outlets may overlook or disregard. The insider status of these journalists can encourage more open and honest discussions of campus issues, representing a less intimidating presence than alienating mainstream media outlets.

As campuses nationwide continue to struggle with navigating the complexities of peaceful dialogue and fostering peace, it is important to remember the human element behind the bylines. Student journalists are not just reporters but our classmates and friends, scholars and athletes, who all strive to fulfill their many roles and identities with the integrity and diligence they require.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 156th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

Related Articles

Join our newsletterSubscribe