When I took over as Head of News, my team and I had an ambitious plan for how to cover these elections, now it won’t happen.
We knew that there would be bumps in the road and potential issues with our ambitious plans.
We are the SU media so it figures that it may look biased to criticise candidates.
That’s why, except for one spoof article about The Tab, we haven’t passed editorial comment in any of our articles this year.
This was intended to reassure SUBU that we could look at the facts of the manifestos of candidates and scrutinise them fairly, without editorial comment.
At first this went well, we were given access to meetings and were able to cover the hustings event.
Sadly, the videos of these hustings will be the last time we cover these elections.
We had planned to interview candidates, we were told we could only ask them the same two questions.
Unfortunately, in the end only 11 of the 26 candidates filled out our form so we scrapped the idea.
We decided instead to “fact check” the manifestos of the candidates.
Nerve wouldn’t give opinion but simply state what policies were feasible based on the constraints of this institution.
We approached the first candidate we had fact checked to ask for their response, after finding one policy was contestable.
They then, instead of replying to us, got in touch with the elections team.
I was then taken aside and spoken to, I was told that the current SUBU election rules (mostly enshrined in by-laws) would not allow our article to be published.
The only hope I was given of having it published would be if SUBU got to read it first, and once every single fact check had been done.
Our initial plan was to publish one role at a time, starting with VP Activities and ending with President.
The whole process of checking all those roles would be hours of work.
I couldn’t morally ask my team, most of whom are (like me) writing their dissertations, to give up hours for an article that might not be published.
I even showed the first fact check draft to one of the elections team, in an attempt to get approval.
Generally, I don’t like to do this with my articles because: “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” – Ernest Hemingway.
They still couldn’t tell me whether the final article would be acceptable to publish.
It was also pointed out to me that I, as an executive committee member last year, had approved these by-laws.
This is true, but the committee were given four options and none of those options removed the clauses currently being used to limit our coverage.
This left us in a position where we could only cover the elections in the same way SUBU themselves are covering them.
So what next?
So where does this leave you, the student?
We only ask that you do what we did every day here at Nerve when covering this election: question everything.
Is that manifesto policy possible? Will it actually change anything? Is this person who they claim to be?
You shouldn’t have to give up your time to do this, that is what journalists are here for.
But when the rules don’t allow us to do our job we must ask you to step up.
Please vote here.