This April, it will be ten years since I finished my tenure as the Features Editor and started my first of two years as the News Editor at The Medium. Today, on Valentine’s Day, I wish to write a “love letter,” of sorts, to all The Medium’s editorial boards, for upholding the high standard of the paper. Thank you to every editor and writer for your tireless dedication to the Medium. To the current editorial board: you may not know it now, but every story you write is an important lesson in how commitment to journalistic integrity can shape a campus (and how it can shape you, personally, for years to come, as it has impacted me in that way).
I discovered the paper in 2010, my first year at UTM, but I had no idea how dedicated I would become to it—and how dear the people I worked alongside would become to me—as we together worked to churn out well-written, well-balanced stories, uncover the facts, interview hard-to-find sources, facilitate knowledge, and amplify the voice of UTM. I learned, during my tenure at the paper, not to underestimate how powerful the written word is, nor how fearful people can be of journalists who are dedicated to the truth.
I attended plays for Arts and Entertainment, wrote poetry and in-depth investigations for the Features section—and for News, I covered stories like the four-hour-long AGMs held by the UT[M]SU and the controversial installation of the expensive new signage at the front of campus, got my little purse illegally searched for cameras and recording equipment before entering a UTMSU meeting in Council Chambers—and once, was coldly threatened by two volunteers of the UTMSU (I was covering the student fee increases proposed by UTMSU for a newer Student Centre when two girls said there were “things they could do” to me if I didn’t write the story the way they wanted).
Of course, sticking by your journalistic principles can often lead to very uncomfortable situations. I learned that in my third year, when [an associate professor at University of Toronto Mississauga] attempted to intimidate me and control the narrative of my story when I interviewed him for a feature about his proposed new writing-across-the-curriculum initiative. He wanted to read the story and make changes before I published it. When I refused—a true journalist does not allow their interviewees to control coverage of a story—[he] became visibly angry and told me to leave his office, saying, “If you don’t co-operate with me, I won’t co-operate with you!” I left, disappointed to realize that even a faculty member of the institution might not be committed to integrity (even one who portrays himself as being an “expert” in academic integrity).
There are some people out there, like [him], who have no qualms about deterring you from standing by your principles and living with integrity. But you must not give in, because journalists fight for the truth, which is to be protected, upheld, and boldly published; now, and more than ever.
Larissa Fleurette Ho
Features Editor (2011-12), News Editor (2012-13)
Note: Name has been redacted.