‘Student publications are a good thing’, reads the petition entitled End the Tab, End Toxic Student Journalism. The petition is addressed to 39 student unions including that of Warwick and is beautifully ambiguous in intent. For what could be more consistent for a petition that claims to celebrate student publications than a call to end one of them?
It is in the nature of tabloid papers to push ethical limits, The Tab being no exception. It has recently, however, appeared to have crossed a line in its reporting of information that should have remained private due to an ongoing investigation. High consumption of this news, if indeed it does constitute news, does not morally justify the publication of it. This petition, however, does not appear to be built upon grounds of any substance. Reasons given for ‘ending’ The Tab consist of their articles being ‘pointless’, ‘misleading’ and fuelled by ‘clickbait headlines’.
Surely the issues raised would be far better solved through the petition’s author simply not reading The Tab?
Whether the charges are true or not, it appears to be written out of irritation rather than a moral objection. Can a personal issue warrant social action? Surely the issues raised would be far better solved through the petition’s author simply not reading The Tab? Although tabloids undoubtedly require change, we cannot condemn media outlets due to ‘pointless’ articles, as this is a subjective categorisation. The Tab has over 250 thousand followers on Facebook and each of them would likely disagree with the suggestion that the paper is ‘pointless’.
Moreover, the title of the petition End the Tab, End Toxic Student Journalism suggests that the aim is to ban the publication from producing content. The call for various student unions to ‘end’ The Tab, whatever this means, crosses a line of authority that really should not be tried. To censor student journalism would be to oppress the voices of students and control what we consume: although questionable decisions have been made, disbanding a media outlet is a serious action with equally serious implications.
Every media outlet publishes articles that are met with disagreement, but this does not mean that they should all be condemned
To ban a paper is a slippery slope. Personal opinion would override freedom of the press. Every media outlet publishes articles that are met with disagreement, but this does not mean that they should all be condemned. I feel this call to end The Tab must be viewed critically by any who truly value student journalism. In any case, it seems somewhat unlikely that a few hundred signatures would carry any weight against a global, Murdoch funded company.
By creating conversation around what is acceptable to publish and getting more students involved in writing, journalism can be changed from the inside
Although censorship is simply not the avenue to pursue when tackling issues rooted in journalism, taking action is not impossible. By creating conversation around what is acceptable to publish and getting more students involved in writing, journalism can be changed from the inside and issues can be tackled without the dangerous act of censoring the media. Much of what The Tab produces is inoffensive and not problematic; this can be built upon by journalists in order to respond to criticism.
Ultimately it is unlikely that anything will come from this. A vague and confused statement, it simply proves that issues with media outlets cannot be solved by signing attempting to silence them. A petition should not be used to simply express anger at something. It is a formal request written to authority in the hope of creating change. This petition is one of indecision, simultaneously addressing student unions, students and The Tab itself, making it appear an aimless expression of anger towards The Tab, which will only gain exposure from the episode.