Why student media is crucial

Staff Editorial

On Jan. 29, the Vermont Cynic celebrated Student Press Freedom Day, a national day that honors student journalists and brings awareness to the rights of student media.

At the Cynic, we believe our newspaper to be the foremost record of life at UVM.

When the Cynic was founded in 1883, its mission statement read: “We shall honestly speak the convictions of our mind; it means our objects are utilitarian.”

When our staff is deciding what questions to ask and what information to print, we are thinking of what our readers need to know.

The Cynic is an independent publication, not tied to UVM administration, to SGA or to any other group on campus.

The Cynic receives about half of its funding from the University, but that funding comes whether UVM affiliates agree with what we print or not.

In 2017, Vermont Governor Phil Scott protected freedom of speech for student journalists.

The Vermont New Voices Act guarantees freedom of speech and of the press for all school-sponsored media at both public high schools and public colleges, according to the Student Press Law Center.

We are grateful that Vermont is one of only 14 states that currently protects student press freedom.

We must come up with the rest of our funding on our own, by selling advertisements and seeking donations through fundraising initiatives.

Like all good journalists, we believe in telling our stories in a fact-based, objective way. We sift through data and public records to make sure we provide accurate information.

We abide by a Cynic code of conduct and international standards of journalistic ethics and values. We have a dedicated team of fact-checkers and copy editors.

And we’ve done all of this work with very little formal journalism training. There is no journalism major at UVM.

In the last several years, we’ve seen our country become perhaps more distrustful of the press than ever before. That distrust comes from the leaders of our country and trickles down. There are even inklings of that distrust here at UVM.

The Cynic is not perfect. We make mistakes. We run corrections. But we do not believe ourselves to be the enemy of the people, the UVM administration, SGA or other student groups here on campus. Instead, we see ourselves as one of UVM’s most valuable tools.

Independent investigative reporting, questioning of leadership and unbiased coverage are essential to a functioning community and democracy.

It’s the job of the press to ask hard questions and to represent all sides. And that means you are bound to disagree with some of what we print. But even if you disagree, we do ask for your respect and your trust.

Journalism is enhanced by conversation. We strive to give the UVM community the news it needs to hear, but we can’t do it without your help.