Visual credit: Nisrine Nail – Artistic Director
An editorial written by Miléna Frachebois – Co-editor in chief
Since January 22, the streets of downtown Ottawa have been occupied by protesters from the famous Freedom Convoy. This protest brings with it a grim reality for mainstream newspapers like The rotunda : the hostility and hatred that descend upon us.
“The newspapers are all corrupt”, “they are mandated by the government”, “they are not of much use”: these are phrases that we hear regularly lately, and which insult our mission. Sometimes worse, these “banal” words are accompanied by violence, verbal or physical, towards journalists and reporters.
Whatever the reason that leads some people to think and say such things, it is important to set the record straight. No, newspapers are not corrupt in Canada, no, we are not in the service of the government, and yes, we do serve a purpose: we inform the public about important issues. In this editorial, we address those who assume this from the media.
Corruption VS Democracy
Let’s start at the beginning: what is corruption? What would it look like in a journalistic setting? Are we really living in a “tyranny”?
Please note that a tyranny is a political regime in which power is arbitrary, absolute. In these governments, oppression, injustice and terror prevail. So, in a tyranny, it would be impossible to demonstrate on Parliament Hill for a week under the current conditions, i.e. harassment, noise pollution, desecration of historical and national monuments, etc.
We hear frequently, in general from those who follow conspiracy theories, that we, the newspapers, are part of this so-called tyranny. We would supposedly be a propaganda tool. One would almost believe, to hear them, to live in 1984 by George Orwell.
Should we therefore recall the importance of journalism in a democracy? It is fundamental, because it is free. Canada is a democracy because sovereignty is in the hands of Canadian citizens. We choose our representatives Whether they meet your expectations is another story. We can elect them democratically every few years, unlike some countries where the leaders strangely chain the mandates. In 2020, Canada ranked fifth in the ranking of states in the world by democracy index.
We don’t put everyone in the same basket: we know that this way of perceiving newspapers is not frequent and unanimous. However, it exists, and it disturbs.
The role of the press
In a democracy like ours, the press is essential. As Honoré de Balzac said in 1840 in The Parisian Review, “the press is in France a fourth power in the State”. This idea is just as present and important today. There is the executive power, the legislative power, the judicial power, and the fourth power, which thwarts the three previous ones: the press.
Our mission is to inform citizens, in a nuanced way, about important issues. We enlighten the public on information of public interest. But we do more than provide information. We are watchdogs, we investigate, we make sure that these three powers that we were talking about respect our democracy. We suggest solutions where there are problems.
Journalism can appear very serious and policy-oriented. But with the help of pens and interviews, we also have the ability to introduce readers to the world around us, in order to better understand it. Whether it’s news, art, culture, technology, sport…
To all these hostile people, see that the press is essential, it is there to represent citizens and help them discover the world. The press is not the enemy of the people. She is your friend.
What is our place for us, the student newspapers, in this shambles? Let’s take advantage of this editorial to remind you that the student press is just as important as the rest of the Canadian press. And that it applies, in the same way as the big traditional newspapers, the same principles of ethics and journalistic deontology.
The rotunda is an independent French-language newspaper, which aims to serve the interest of its university community in a neutral and objective manner. We defend the Francophonie and the interests of students. As a non-profit organization, we are funded and driven by students and do not generate any revenue. The accusations of corruption against us are then all the more absurd, since we are not financed by the State, nor by rich billionaires, nor even by public figures.
Canadian newspapers ensure that the government is transparent to citizens, just like The rotunda ensures that the University is transparent with the students. We are here to inform as well as defend the student community vis-à-vis the University. However, our mandate does not prevent us from going to see the side of the English speakers, the side of the teachers, or even the side of the demonstrators of this convoy, even if most of the students say they are dissatisfied. of those.
We try to respect our mandate, but we also try to remain neutral, in order to allow everyone to make informed decisions. We are trying to combat this prejudice of the press in the service of the State, or here in the service of the University or the Student Union of the University of Ottawa. AT The rotunda, we were not afraid to denounce the University on several occasions when it suddenly decided to increase the tuition fees. Nor were we afraid to denounce the frauds there was within the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.
We render services to no one, we owe nothing to no one. Because we are objective.ve.s. Because we are journalists.