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There is a quote about good journalism. It doesn’t come from the Times or Guardian but is the wisdom of Jon Stewart of the Daily Show. It goes: “[Don’t say we’re] cherry picking […] cherries are sweet and delicious. What we do is more turd mining. And I’ll thank you to give our work the respect it deserves.” They are words this paper has tried to live off this year.
SCAN has made a real effort to be more critical over the past 12 months. That doesn’t mean we’ve been critical for the sake of it, but on the subjects students want us to be critical about: hidden university costs, student democracy, post graduate issues. We have tried to be more challenging, both of the University and the Students’ Union. We set out this year to be something students wanted to read, but not necessarily to be popular. If we were liked by everyone all the time SCAN would be considerably duller and, more importantly, wouldn’t be fulling its objective as a critical friend of both the Students’ Union and University.
Every reader will have a differing opinion on whether we’ve managed to accomplish this, but the motivation was always there. It is easy for people to assume that SCAN will always take the Students’ Union line, but there have been many times this year when the paper’s line and the Union’s line have differed. We didn’t make a song and dance about this, and maybe that’s why it goes unnoticed by some. Others will never see SCAN as anything but a Union mouthpiece, which is a shame because they would undoubtedly bring something worth while to the paper if they took the leap and got involved.
The key factor to this year’s SCAN has been confidence. We have benefitted greatly from a wealth of experience: a team of editors with three years practice and institutional knowledge. Such a team is always going to be more up for a scrap than a team still wet behind the ears: quicker to spot when something’s amiss and more cunning when asking questions. Fortunately there isn’t much scope for SCAN to ever be blighted by inexperience again. Knowledge is carried over the years, passed from one editorial team to another. Hopefully students get a better paper because of that.
Three years ago SCAN underwent a radical change. It stopped interviewing ducks and starting digging. We’ve been digging everyday since. Now the mining shaft has been reinforced, the hard hats are on and there’s a canary in a cage. We wish the best of luck to next year’s miners. There’s gold there, if you just keep digging.