Speak up

Another campus-based newspaper, The Manitoban was in the news recently as a University of Manitoba Students’ Union councillor introduced – and then withdrew – a motion that would challenge the student levy funding the paper’s operations. The councillor reportedly objected to a recent piece published by The Manitoban in their opinion section.

The freedom and health of local news outlets are essential elements of our social and civic engagement. Papers like The Manitoban, and The Uniter, publish pieces by newer writers learning their craft and hire storytellers and journalists who are honing their skills. We cover stories that may not appear in other outlets.

And in the opinion section (here known as the comments section), writers are given space to share their points of view. These pieces aren’t a ticket to vent – comments pieces must still be rhetorically sound, well-researched, timely and compelling.

We don’t publish pieces that share views that would be considered harmful to our readers. But that doesn’t mean that the pieces we publish will stay within everyone’s comfort zone or align with popular ideals of the moment.

Local comments and opinion sections are an important site for discussion of issues that affect our lives on campus, in the city and in our greater cultures and communities. It’s a space where readers may step outside of their bubbles and hear from someone they don’t know yet. These are sometimes uncomfortable challenges, where we can listen, learn and broaden our perspectives.

There are so many current issues facing our local communities that require us to grow and do better, whether it’s in the realm of campus or civic politics, or in how we relate to one another one on one. One of the first steps of social change is to become informed and engaged, and independent media can be essential to that process.

This week, we’re publishing the largest comments section we’ve had all year. This isn’t the time to shut down the conversation. It’s time to listen, learn and speak up.

– Anastasia Chipelski

Published in Volume 72, Number 16 of The Uniter (February 1, 2018)

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