Late Monday night a three-alarm fire broke out in North Philadelphia, engulfing a four-story abandoned building in flames and forcing firefighters to evacuate the block. The order to leave subsequently displaced several Temple University students living in nearby buildings.
This was when The Temple News, the school’s student-run newspaper and self-proclaimed “watchdog” of the University sprang into action. Despite the fact that they were in the midst of production for the next day’s paper and despite the fact that many of them have jobs, classes, and lives beyond that of the paper they create, they rushed to the scene with photographers and reporters ready to dig in and report the news – all in time for the Tuesday paper.
One of the things about student-run newspapers like The Temple News and the one you’re currently reading right now is that while the people writing the stories and building the pages are indeed students, that doesn’t make them any less legitimate than the journalists at the Associated Press or The New York Times. Yes, we are typically much (much) younger. Yes, there is a lot left for us to learn. And yes, we even are prone to making mistakes. However, at the end of the day, every journalist, regardless of their level of experience, carries the same goal: to ensure that our readership is digesting information that is accurate, meaningful, and essential.
One of my favorite sayings is The Washington Post’s motto: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” In other words, it is the job of journalism to guarantee that the powers that be do not go unregulated.
Journalism of all levels is critical to safeguarding the power of the people by keeping them informed. To us, our mission is no different from that of the papers with readerships in the hundreds of thousands. All journalists are just fighting on a different front of the same war.
Sometimes the stories may seem small, but it’s our persistence and tenacity that reminds administrators and students alike of our presence as purveyors of the truth.
Student papers have the ability to uncover and legitimize essential stories that other, more prominent news outlets might overlook, even more so as the number of local news outlets seems to dwindle daily.
As a new year approaches us with many changes, and undoubtedly many stories, ahead, I hope that you’ll continue to join us in our ongoing quest for the truth.
Nicholas Kerr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter at @NickKerr99.