From time to time, I’m asked what my opinion is on the state of the press. Locally, nationally and internationally, I think it’s in need of a shakeup. And not merely one which will see it’s format shift from print to digital. That’s happening regardless.
While I certainly don’t hold the most informed opinion, and have in the past sopaboxed about equally poorly informed individuals being afforded the opportunity to share their often lengthy own, holding the position of Editor of this newspaper affords me certain liberties. Permission to share my own opinion in print, I think, is one of them.
The purpose I feel the press should serve at all levels, though particularly national outlets, is to act almost as a branch of government. Those studying politics and international relations here at UCD will be familiar with the theory of the separation of powers.
Governments are made up of three branches, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. Each of these, according to the theory, should keep its distance and maintain independence. No branch should be able to exert undue influence on the others, as to do so does not fit with the ideals of a democratic republic such as our own. The running of a fair an equal state is dependent on the three branches operating seperately.
It goes without saying that problems would arise if, for example, a sitting TD were able to influence the decision of a judge in their favour. Or if a member of the civil service were able to lobby for the inclusion of provisions into legislation which would see them awarded a state contact unduly. Put simply, in a well run government, there will be little room for corruption.
While to a certain extent, this is unavoidable in a small country such as Ireland, moving to limit the possibility for corrupt action to take placeis only right and fair.
Corruption is not limited to government however, as the scale of our insitutions puts many powerful people from across many fields in close proximity to one another. The admittedly dated ‘Special Eurobarometer 374’ found that 86% of Irish people, almost nine out of ten, consider corruption to be a part of Irish business culture. This is 20% above than the European average.
And this is where the press should go to work. From boardrooms across the city, to the Tierny building, to Leinster House, the press should serve as a reminder to those in power that they are accountable. That those in business are to act above board at all times and that those on government are to act in the best interests of the electorate.
In this way, the press should act as a kind of fourth branch of government. One which is removed from the other three and is genuinly independent of their influence, constantly vigilant in holding powerful people and institutions to account by holding them to their word and making it known when they don’t.
Peter, what the hell was that? This man’s made a big scale cock-up here. You let him get away with it! Now let me speak to him. Put your ear-piece next to his head and stand still
Two fo One: On the Trib
Since taking on the role of Editor, I’ve spoken to a number of people consider the Tribune to be the ‘anti-paper’. A paper which is constantly on the lookout for minutiae with which to trip people up. They’re right, to a certain extent. The College Tribune was established in 1989, with the assistance of Vincent Browne to offer students the opportunity to voice their concerns about university and students’ union authorities which otherwise wouldn’t exist.
While standing against the institutions of this university is a large part of what this paper is about, it’s by no means the be all and end all of what we’re about. After more than a quarter of a century, the Tribune is perhaps no longer the attack dog it once was.
After all, many of the issues which exist at universites today also existed in 1989. A quick scan through our archives will attest to this, with similar stories having played out through the words of generations of editors, section-eds and writers.
Solutions to structural issues which preclude change to these issues are, in many cases known, but for one reason or another a fix has not been found. Other issues, student fees, the accomodation crisis, graduate emigration to name a few, may never see a satisfying resolution.
The College Tribune then, is not out for blood. Where mistakes are made, or someone does wrong by the students of this university, it will be made known here. But there is also much which deserves to be celebrated. From the small, to the monumental, and that too will appear in these pages. In my time as editor I hope I can help to facilitate this celebration.
In between, the College Tribune will seek to foster conversation. Feature pieces to justify your afternon nap, encourage you to tak about drug use, or open up about sex. News to keep you informed, illuminated or incensed. And politics, business and sport besides.
It’s only right that the public know and discuss what’s going on around them. There’s a certain sense of pride in seeing students reading this paper on campus, but far more satisfyng is hearing them discuss what they’ve read. Our job is to be outrageous, critical, anti-establishment, and subversive, and in doing so we hope to cause some heated discussion.
Both my co-editor and I are unpaid for what we do here. As are our section editors, writers, photographers, and illustrators. From the first ideas to the final print edition you’re reading, this paper is provided to you free of charge. All of us are volunteers with the best interests of UCD’s student body and an interest in journalism motivating us. What we do is a public service, in a manner of speaking.
It’s a start.
- Seán O’Reilly, Editor