Editorial #873: The grassroots of journalism

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The imminent end of term (and my terms as Editor) has brought a great time to reflect on the recent work of Palatinate and also brings me the opportunity to showcase how important print journalism is to a small, close-knit University city and community.

For 76 years now, Palatinate has been printed and distributed around Durham. We are made by students for students but the journalism we offer our readership is just the tip of the iceberg of how this historic organisation can help the student body.

To put it simply, Palatinate is the closest thing Durham has to a journalism course and yet the skills that our voluntary editors can develop in less than three years on this paper puts them in an excellent position to pursue journalism as a career choice. The award-winning talent behind the bylines in this paper is almost entirely self-taught but held to a professional standard week in, week out — recognised and respected by national newspapers.

I had zero journalistic experience before joining the paper as a humble sports reporter in 2021 and yet my role this year at times has felt like the defender of the student body’s opportunity to gain improved transparency with their University. Fresher me was frankly terrified of the idea of holding such responsibility.

One of the things that makes me most proud of this paper is the way that financial accessibility has been at the forefront of our priorities. Engaging with Palatinate in any capacity is completely free despite our fortnightly print editions being self funded through donations and advertisement revenue. Journalism — as I’m currently finding — is a tough industry to start out in without idealistic financial and geographical circumstances and so I am always grateful for the wealth of knowledge I have inherited through this paper and have hopefully passed on to the next crop. 

The award-winning talent behind the bylines is almost entirely self-taught but held to a professional standard

For a city with rich working class roots, Durham is a university that can be a struggle for local students and working class students more broadly to fit into, which is why seeing stories over the last few terms on financial accessibility of the Durham experience remind me exactly why we do what we do. And that’s without mentioning my personal favourite news feature on the experiences of students with different accents — a topic that I ranted about in my first ever editorial back in October. 

More broadly, each Palatinate print copy is a physical embodiment of students’ hard work and talent while also presenting what matters most to their peers. Before university, much of our readership may have very infrequently interacted with the media. However, Palatinate provides a regular source of media that directly represents its target audience while also giving them the chance to get involved in it themselves.

So with this in mind, I have no doubt there will always be a stream of students mental enough to put everything else to the side to defend printed media in Durham. 

….

So to top off what is already a soppy end to my time here, some personal thanks are very much in order. 

First and foremost, the ever-increasing diligence and talent of our Editorial Board made my life easier, week on week. I will miss working with you all so much.

Thank you to Mam and Dad for your tireless patience and support. And Connie for your amazing illustrations, usually late on a Sunday putting your Maths homework on the back burner.

To Gillard 5 who have been there since my first ever application, thank you for your incessant support in all 28 editions that I have forced upon you over the last 3 years. Izzy and Jess in particular, you have kept me sane these two terms. I hope that hearing Durham news a bit earlier than everyone else was a worthy repayment for having to deal with me. 

Oliver, Sanjay and Maddie, working with you three made me realise just how special this paper is as both an organisation and a society.

I’ve had the immense pleasure of working under six outstanding Editors, each as inspiring as the last. Max, Poppy, Joe, Nicole and Dan, I thank you for the way you have helped me develop both professionally and personally.

And to my two wonderful co-editors. Emily, I am so grateful for you teaching me absolutely everything I know in this job and also for that time you let me dash off to the Stadium of Light on a print weekend to see Carrick’s Reds batter Sunderland. Up the Boro! And to Elliot, who I’ve had such fun working with this term. I couldn’t be any more confident in who I was leaving this paper with.

Image: Victoria Cheng, edited by

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