Given the ubiquity of online media it is easy to forget that supremacy of the Internet as the medium through which we consume news is still relatively new. So too is the encroaching perception that the institution of journalism is elitist, redundant, or even malicious.
The Varsity’s Editorial Board wrote about the importance of preserving journalism in our November 27 issue, and I am cautiously optimistic that institutions that prioritize journalistic ethics and high standards for reporting will be the choice of readers in the long-term. As the scope of possibilities that have not yet been realized on the Internet wanes, I hope and believe that the novelty and urgency associated with the medium will wear off, and we will be left with both a public of democratic-minded citizens who prioritize substantial news and analysis, and a wealth of professional journalists with a greater array of tools at their disposal.
A healthy future for journalism requires that readers trust journalists to seek and expose truths — sometimes even uncomfortable ones. For their part, news media organizations must constantly reaffirm their commitment to journalistic standards.
This is why we are introducing Sophie Borwein as our first ever Public Editor. As I see it, the next wave of journalists are working at newspapers like The Varsity, and the next wave of informed citizens are reading them. We strive to always provide a high standard of journalism in keeping with our Code of Journalistic Ethics, and we know from the many engagements our team has with readers that they care a lot about our adherence to those standards. The appointment of Sophie as our Public Editor is our latest commitment to transparency with respect to our journalistic standards and practices that our readers rightly demand from us, and should continue to demand of media organizations throughout their lives.
Sophie was selected by a joint committee consisting of two members of The Varsity’s masthead, and two members of our Board of Directors, and she reports to that same committee. As a PhD student in U of T’s Department of Political Science Sophie is both active in the U of T community, and separate from The Varsity’s core membership — full time undergraduate students. For this reason, and because of her sharp critical eye toward the media, I believe she will do an excellent job of considering readers’ feedback, and holding us accountable.
Welcome, Sophie, and readers, to the pages of The Varsity.
— Alex McKeen, Editor-in-Chief