An unsolicited personal reflection on the Argosy
I’ve spent the last four years working at the Argosy, and I’m feeling a little sentimental, so here I will offer to you something that no one asked for: a personal essay about the frustrations and jubilations of working for our student newspaper.
I’ll miss eating pizza every production night and the weekly rush of seeing my name in print – the lustre of which, I’ll admit, fades pretty quickly – but I’ve been trying to decide if I’m upset about no longer being a journalist. These columns I’ve been writing this year don’t really count as journalism in my book, but they’ve certainly been a good excuse to reflect on the work I’ve done in the past.
Much of my writing in this column has been an open revolt against the nature of much corporate journalism. While a lot of people – or at least a lot of anonymous Yik Yak users – seem to think the Argosy is “further left than a back issue of Pravda,” I think the standards of the more conservative traditional media weigh pretty heavily on our work. I think a large part of the problem is that we assume that only polemical writings are political. As a result, we ignore more insidious forms of structural media bias and fail to question a lot of the fundamental assumptions present in the social organizations that surround us and structure our lives.
I’m certainly not going to miss the inevitable regurgitation of press releases that ends up happening when you’re trying to be a student but have to be a journalist, too. I also won’t miss the obvious obfuscation from a few different sources that you often encounter when reporting on a difficult issue. I actually will miss the time I tried to call the mayor of Sackville only to be told that they weren’t sure when he would next be in the office.
Still, even in the face of these frustrations, there is a satisfaction in writing journalism. Some of my favourite work I’ve done includes my trip to Fredericton to cover an anti-fracking march that was organized in conjunction with the Elsipogtog blockade. I also was happy to be involved with some of the strike coverage in 2014, and to work on an introduction to renting housing in Sackville.
“Legwork” can really pay off, and it’s satisfying to synthesise a collection of interviews and documents into a readable article that relates to “the real world” in a way that most things you’ll ever write do not. I also maintain that you don’t really know an organization or an institution until you’ve reported on it. You get an excuse to poke around the university in a way that no one else does, and you end up talking to people that you would otherwise not likely meet.
Finally, I feel obliged to say that most of my best friends are people I’ve met or gotten to know better through the paper. Taking a night a week to stay up until 6 a.m. editing together is a good way to get to know someone. Without the paper, I wouldn’t be close with a lot of good people, and I wouldn’t be the writer or researcher I am today.