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Students Speak Out Against SUSU's Power Over Media

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Southampton University's student newspaper, the Wessex Scene, has recently become involved in a debate which is at the forefront of discussions in media on a national level. Editor Daniel Webb and News Editor Jessica Fuhl spoke out against what they perceive as the student union's (SUSU) continual attempt to censor and limit student media and, in particular, print journalism.

This comes at a time when journalists around the country are at the mercy of 'superinjunctions' which prevent them revealing details about alleged affairs and those involved.

Within the open letter placed on the Wessex Scene website, it is argued that: ‘SUSU is intended to support the Wessex Scene, a department within SUSU which is supposed to be a journalistically independent entity.’

The letter goes further to explore the conflicting position of the Wessex Scene as something intended to ensure that all students in positions of power are accountable for their actions while at the same time being subject to these very same actions.

The images banned by SUSU have also been displayed so as to emphasise the ludicrousness of shaping a publication around the abstract values promoted by the union. One such image was pulled due to the possibility that children may be exposed to its sexual content.

According to the editors: ‘the Wessex Scene being used as another marketing tool for the Union was the last straw.’

SUSU's censoring of articles and images is criticised in the open letter both for its immediate and far-reaching effects. It is suggested that Southampton University's student media is not able to reach its full potential or receive any recognition due to its inability to take the risks which judges of prestigious media awards desire.

One of the writers of the letter, Jessica Fuhl, said: ‘the amount we have been restricted this year at the Wessex Scene by the Union has been ridiculous and if it wasn't so frustrating it would be laughable. Myself and Dan have put forward a motion for Monday's Union Council for more editorial flexibility at the Wessex Scene; hopefully this will be passed and we can see the Scene grow next year in ways that allow us to report engaging and important issues to students in a way that we should.’

The open letter acts as both a plea to the Students' Union and as an example of the freedom of speech which the Wessex Scene is keen to promote. Its provocative argument prompted a significant number of responses; many students said that they are happy that steps have finally been taken to reinstate media independence and uphold the notion that SUSU is 'run by students for students'.

To view the open letter and have your say about editorial independence visit: http://www.wessexscene.co.uk/headline/2011/05/23/editorial-independence-threatened-an-open-letter-from-the-wessex-scene/




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