Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 10. 1971
A Role for Salient
A Role for Salient
Student newspapers have the good fortune of freedom from commercial pressures. Their producers have an established income and a set output. With the profit motive removed, what role should they take? The post of editor is vital. It should be his responsibility to seek balance in what is published and present as accurate a reflection of the University community as possible.
The present editor of Salient shows no such inclination whatever. This year's paper has drifted along, varying in standard from a left-wing propoganda sheet to a third-rate comic album. A policy of publish what contributions appear would under normal commercial conditions lead to ruin. Why should the paid employee of students be allowed such laziness?
The major function of a newspaper should naturally enough be to print news. Not just subjective interpretations of events, but straight news. A weekly glance at the columns of Salient gives no true indication of what has been happening at the University. The editor's task should be to actively seek reports of the main events and present them in an objective way. Student politics has received next to no attention at all. The student newspaper should be the prime source of information about the running of the association. A dose of publicity might well bring forth more ac page break tivity from certain Executive members. In any case how can students be expected to elect representatives when they have no idea who they are. Lack of information makes apathy the easiest course.
A campus of 6000 must surely have people and activities interesting enough to write about. It should be the editor's task to look for such material.
In a community whose origin was the spirit of enquiry, Salient is particularly lacking in intellectual stimulus. The only controversy aroused this year has been over 'A Day for a Lay' and that only about whether it was worth printing. The existing style of journalism makes any serious contributions appear laughable. But there must be students any serious contributions appear laughable. But there must be students who would be prepared to write about subjects on which they feel strongly. Researchers might be encouraged to provide simplified accounts of their findings for instance. Again it is up to the initiative of the editor to find such people.
The antics of the Salient staff may have been amusing for the first few weeks, but now are merely tedious. Layout is little better than chaotic and the use of comic strip illustrations distracts from whatever content there is. Auckland's paper, Craccum manages with a very ordinary layout to present some worthwhile articles—the use of so much filling in Salient really indicates laziness on the part of the editor.
So the primary role of a student newspaper should be to create a sense of student identity. While there is campus material available the editor should prefer it to that syndicated from elsewhere. There are many other publications which can cater for that type of article. A student newspaper's prime responsibility should be student affairs.
But there is certainly a place for articles about the wider world. Issues of regional importance, and especially those which will affect students, such as rises in bus fares or the advance of the motorway are worth investigating. Salient can also afford to be more forceful in its criticisms than the two Wellington dailies. World issues like war and racism warrant coverage too, but preferably in conjunction with a conference or demonstration. The verbatim printing of overseas material is little better than useless.
If the editor has a particular viewpoint to hammer, then he can do so with a combination of editorial and feature articles. But his first duty should be to mirror the activity of the campus.
And it is worth remembering that the present editor receives an honorarium of $800 for the rag he produces. Or if cost per issue makes the situation more plain, each Salient you read costs you five cents. Are we really getting value?