Editorial #874: Wipe your feet on the way out

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Summative season is in full swing, and as I write this editorial moments after submitting yet another essay to TurnItIn, I can’t help but look forward to the bliss that awaits me after exam season. Yet, amongst my plans for a Pimm’s picnic by the racecourse and some relaxing sunbathing on Mary’s lawn, there will be a certain sticky-floored-nightclub-shaped hole in my post-exam celebrations. This week Palatinate broke the story that Klute has closed its doors for the final time, which has since been picked up by the national press, The Sun, the Daily Mirror and the MailOnline. We explain the reason behind its closure and discuss the impact that it has had on the student life on page 4. 

The litmus for most of our bigger stories usually come from off-the-cuff tip-offs from friends, looking at similar investigations that are being run by other student papers, or trawling through publicly available data and documents from local bodies to find interesting tidbits. In this case, after a chance tip-off from one of our Editors in the pub that rumours were swirling over Klute’s closure one evening, we dragged ourselves back into the office to try and find out if we could stand them up. So, in one evening, we went from tip-off to getting in touch with former employees and the former manager of Klute to verify its closure. The next day we published it, garnering a huge response on social media.

We have two more investigative features this week that concern the environment. They manage to shine a light on obscure datasets and documents and seek to explain them in a more human way. In the piece on water quality, I juxtaposed the testimony of individual students with the explanatory power of graphs; distilling down a national issue to the way it affects individuals. Similarly, delving into the numbers behind greenhouse gas emissions emitted by Durham University, showed an increase in emissions related to staff business travel.

Our team’s ability to be able to grapple with stories quickly and competently really shone after our recent visit to the Student Publication Association National Convention (unfortunately shortened to SPANC) over the holidays. Ten of us, alongside most of the student papers in the country, descended on Bristol for a weekend of awards and speakers, with a brilliant opportunity to network with guests. 

In chatting about the experiences of other papers, it reminded me just how lucky we are to have such a dedicated and committed bunch of editors working on the paper. Having the highest number of nominations for any publication at this year’s awards is a testament to our Editorial Board’s consistency in all aspects of their output.

One example of a similar human-interest story that Nicole, Lizzie and Luke from News achieved highly commended for a feature from Michaelmas last year on accents. The testimony of students with regional accents was deftly transformed into a coherent account and explanation of students’ own experiences, a prime example of what student journalists should strive to do. Luke Alsford, our current News Editor, achieved a special mention for Best Newcomer, for handling his investigative work, often on sensitive topics deftly — on page 6 he interviews a Durham student who has family in Gaza.

Our Podcast Editor, Ellen, has managed, in one year, to assemble a full team of hosts, and output a full range of three podcasts every fortnight while trying to write a dissertation at the same time. The win for Best Project or Initiative for Podcasts by Palatinate will leave a lasting legacy on how we speak to students. And, in what is becoming almost routine at this point, our Sport section took home their third consecutive win for both Best Sports Section, and with Joseph, Sport Editor, sweeping the floor with Best Sports Reporter. Very good work.

We are not the only student media outlet in Durham well endowed with awards — the ceremonies for which take place over consecutive weekends over Easter holidays. Our sister TV station, PalTV, is taking up most of Palatinate HQ’s award shelf with their 11 awards, with 4 gold awards, which includes the biggie, Broadcaster of the Year. Our friends at Purple Radio managed to scoop up Best Contribution to the Region, and Silver for Most Committed Member, their Station Manager. 

All in all, whether it’s Klute, accents, or as Sport discusses this week, wheelchair fencing, I hope you enjoy reading it.

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