64% of student journalists believe that censorship exists within ratified student media at the University of York, a survey for student media has found.
According to a survey by the student group York Liberty, most student journalists believe that censorship exists within media. Of those polled, over half had experienced censorship themselves and of those, most had experienced it more than once.
Additionally, 57% of respondents disagreed with the claim that “YUSU supports freedom of expression within student media.” More than half also disagreed with the claims that “the 2015 Media Charter empowers media” and “the Media Charter supports free speech.”
Although 65% stated that they believed that student media should be granted editorial independence from the student union, the results for financial independence were much less conclusive.
York Liberty, an non-ratified student group, who describe themselves as dedicated to “pushing for greater accountability and transparency on campus, while also campaigning for the protection of freedom of expression,” composed a survey on freedom of speech, censorship and the University of York Students’ Union’s 2015 Media Charter. The survey was written for “editors and directors” of ratified media, as opposed to ordinary writers and illustrators.
The survey was distributed to Nouse, York Vision, The Lemon Press, HARD Magazine and Circulation, all student papers ratified by the union, but only students involved in the former three publications reacted to the survey. In addition, the fact that there were only fourteen respondents in total throws into doubt how representative the results really are of student journalists’ attitudes.
York Liberty stated that its members’ own analysis and conclusions will be published in a subsequent post on their website. A spokesperson from York Liberty told The Yorker:
We hope the survey results will help to identify possible problem areas and encourage further discussion about the relationship of the student union and campus media.
The Yorker contacted Alex Lusty, YUSU’s Activities Officer, for comment. He Tweeted last night:
There's a difference between censorship and YUSU protecting itself legally and from an insurance perspective #YUSUelections
— Alex Lusty (@yusuactivities) February 13, 2017
He later told The Yorker:
YUSU has always, and will always support the freedom of ratified media, and as a former editor of a student media outlet, I believe suggestions otherwise are either misinformed or misrepresented. While we support freedom of the press to the fullest extent, all ratified media is owned by YUSU and therefore checked before printing to ensure it is compliant with the law. Professionally-trained YUSU staff are responsible for this, and act not in opposition to media editors but in cooperation with them. This is not censorship, it’s professional advice and is one of many ways in which we support our media. While we respect the views of the fourteen students who participated in the survey, we must also take into account our responsibility to the other 754 paid members of media societies and the other 17,000 students on campus.
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