The results of the recent ANU Students’ Association Elections were released on August 28th, with a surprise result in the election of the 2009 editorial team for the ANU student newspaper, Woroni. Despite the advantages of incumbency, the sitting Woroni team (led by Annabelle Craft and Charles Prestidge-King, running as An Even Better Woroni) were defeated by newcomers Jess Lee and James Dawson, running under the Scoop ticket. Amongst the key platform points distinguishing the victorious editorial team from the incumbents was the move to a street-press format, from the current tabloid newspaper layout and content.
The election of a new Woroni team should be of interest to the news reading public, not for what these students will produce now, but for their future output. Traditionally, Woroni alumni forge successful careers in journalism, whether it be in print-media, radio or television. This local newspaper arguably acts as a training ground for the people who will be bringing you your news in but a few short years. However, given that Woroni journalists are presumably amongst our best and brightest, why is it that the publication is so damn parochial? Arguably the scope of Woroni is limited by circumstance and personalities: in the first instance, recent Woroni teams have operated with limited financial resources, since the introduction of VSU by the previous government; in the second, the framework imposed by the location of Woroni within the Students’ Association, as an electible entity, immediate limits the pool of contributors to a very particular demographic of students (ie. student politicians).
The outcomes for Woroni under the status quo are made only too clear by the article published in the paper by the current editorial team, commenting on the election of their opposition. By it’s very nature, a student publication is ideally a non-partisan organisation. However, with the editorialship of Woroni being a political prize, it is hardly surprising that we get such gems as these from the outgoing team:
- “This year [‘s election] has been no different and we successfully pushed for increased constitutional independence for Woroni in return for maintaining higher standards of journalistic integrity… so it is with no little concern that we mark the election of Jess Lee and James Dawson as the 2009 Editors of Woroni… their campaign made clear that they have no intention of providing objective or critical coverage of the activities of the Union or the Association.”
Whilst the tradition in Australian institutions appears to be that the editorial team of the university publication is elected, there is something to be said for a move towards the format of a society or club. If student politics were to be excluded from the equation we might see the introduction of greater diversity of opinions and content in Woroni. That all being said, the current team seem to have acquired all the political savvy they’ll need for a career in journalism, an interesting development on the new-esque Woroni website being the advertising space allocated to promoting the University of Melbourne. Whether the Woroni editorial team have immense chutzpah – or are merely wet behind the ears – is difficult to tell, but I am sure they have fine futures ahead of them.