From the Editor: The power of journalism, and why I love our student paper

Kyler Emerson is the Editor in Chief of The Runner, Kwantlen Polytechnic University's student newspaper. (Abby Luciano)

Kyler Emerson is the Editor in Chief of The Runner, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s student newspaper. (Abby Luciano)

Writing my final editorial for The Runner came a bit unexpectedly, even though I knew it would happen one day. I finished my degree in December, and I thought we were in some kind of worker shortage, you know? But it took me over two months to get an offer — which I accepted. 

Not because it was the only call back I received, but because it’s actually something I want to do: journalism. How lucky am I? I get to apply my degree to something I love, it’s super exciting. 

I’ve had an incredible journey at university, with experiences and relationships that I will carry into my next steps in life. 

Through our student paper, I covered topics related to the transgender community, climate change, our beloved bees, sustainable energy, food waste, and many articles about the Kwantlen Student Association. During my time, I’ve learned so much about journalism, its role in democracy, and about myself and what kind of journalist I want to be. I’m grateful to have learned this while I’m young and before I step into my next job. 

For my final editorial, I wanted to talk about what journalism is and the important role a student paper has within the university community. 

The general definition of journalism is the profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or preparing news for broadcast. Simply put, the purpose of journalism is to inform people with information needed to make the best decisions about their lives, communities, and governments. 

In J-School, we learn that our first duty and privilege is to seek and report the truth. This journalistic truth starts with gathering and verifying facts before a journalist can begin putting them together in a sensible way, subject to further investigation of course. 

We have to be as transparent as possible about our sources and methods so our readers can make their own assessment of the information we publish. A journalist’s first loyalty is to the people. We put the public’s interest (and the truth) above our own self-interests or assumptions. 

That said, being impartial is not a core principle of journalism because that’s impossible as human beings. However, the journalistic methods we must abide by are objective, and require consistent verification and transparency so our biases do not undermine the accuracy of our work. This involves seeking out multiple sources and disclosing as much as possible. 

This is what makes journalism different from advertising, fiction, and propaganda. 

Journalism also has the capacity to serve as a watchdog over those whose power and position most affect people, such as governments or public services. 

The purpose of the watchdog role goes beyond making management and execution of power transparent, but also making it known and understood the effects of that power — both the good and the bad. 

At post-secondary institutions, our governing bodies are the university and student association, both of which we pay our fees to. A student paper is independent of them to maintain its integrity of reporting on events and processes either organization hosts or partakes in.  

While student papers cover the important stuff, like changes in tuition fees or a student council election, they also report on the social life of students and fluffy things like food recommendations on campus. 

A student paper is also an opportunity for students to get writing experience, be published, work with an editor, and cover events you otherwise may not have gone to. 

My experience at The Runner is invaluable, it’s something a classroom just can’t offer. I cannot emphasize enough to journalism students to get involved with our incredible student paper, and meet this amazing team. 

I never thought I’d be a journalist when I started university in 2015, but journalism clicked for me and I haven’t looked back. If you’re feeling stuck, try something that’s out of your comfort zone — it may be just what you need.