‘The core of student media lies in this ability to hold the powerful accountable’

Recent WKU graduate Nicole Ares won the nationally competitive Betty Gage Holland Award, which recognizes outstanding student journalism. Carrie Pratt/ College Heights Herald adviser 

Nicole Ares

Independent student newsrooms are perhaps more important now than ever.

In my three years working for the Herald, my colleagues and I showed we can do exactly what professional news organizations aim to do—keep the powerful accountable and promote transparency.

If you think about it, universities are microcosms of the real world. There is a governing body and an electorate with a desire to be informed. Student newsrooms fill a mediating function, allowing the voices of students to be heard, while still holding the administration accountable for their actions.

During my senior year at the Herald, this mediating role never seemed more important as when the administration sued its’ student newspaper to avoid making employee sexual misconduct records available to the public.

This action by the administration is a clear example of this “governing body” trying to abuse its’ power and keep their transgressions “In the Dark.”

But that’s why independent student newsrooms are perhaps more important now than ever.

We need student journalists putting in the long hours, holding steadfast against the administration and telling the stories that the public needs to hear.

We need to support student newsrooms so the future generation of journalists (my generation) doesn’t succumb to abuses of power.

While I am not yet in my professional career (taking a detour through graduate school), I know these traits of persistence and determination I learned while working for student media will transverse into my professional career.

With that being said, I don’t want this harsher perspective to paint a picture in anyone’s mind that student journalists must be the “watchdog” of campus affairs at all times—I’ve wrote my fair share of stories about dog parades and puppy paddles, which I think are equally important.

But, at the end of the day, the core of student media lies in this ability to hold the powerful accountable.

And If you support accountability, transparency and above all—the truth, then you should, too, support student newsrooms.

This letter is part of the #SaveStudentNewsrooms movement. A student-led campaign designed to bring attention to the challenges student newsrooms face.

Nicole Ares is a former Herald digital managing editor for the spring 2017 semester.