After reviewing for some time the work of The Temple News, I must say congratulations are in order. As a fellow college reporter, I find that the quality of the pieces, the visual aspect of the paper and the dynamic online presence blurs the line between graduates and non graduates.
I had the pleasant opportunity to sneak into one of your weekly meetings and speak with the team behind TTN. In that small meeting room I found energy, youth and an unquenchable thirst for good content. No less could I have expected from the people who make TTN possible.
Compliments aside, given the opportunity to extend this letter to the editor and his team, my suggestion as a frequent reader is perhaps to expand that accurate perspective to a broader scope. I extend this invitation to you because of the endless possibilities a college newspaper can have in shaping public opinion, not just in local issues, but global ones as well.
Mind you, I’m not encouraging the disregard of “smaller issues,” such as campus food or sidewalks. It is imperative that these topics remain at the heart of a college newspaper in order for it to properly serve its community.
However, global issues have the potential to expand a student’s mind and help them gain perspective. I allow myself to suggest a piece on the situation that currently engulfs my homeland, Venezuela, on the field of liberty of press (or lack thereof).
To be a journalist in Venezuela is even more dangerous than being a window washer on the Empire State building. At least in that job there’s a harness to secure you. The Press and Society Institute, a Venezuelan ONG, has tallied some 1,650 violations to freedom of the press and the murder of seven press workers since 2005.
Threats, extortion and government pressure are very common for any media outlet that critiques the government. I myself have received direct threats for the content I’ve published about the state of the country. Even as I sit down to write these lines, two colleagues were verbally abused at a press conference for the ruling party.
Since 2013, 11 print newspapers have gone out of circulation and 34 others have had difficulties accessing paper because of government regulations. In a country with a deepening scarcity of basic goods like milk and toilet paper, you would think reading the local journal would be the least of the country’s problems. However, it is quite the opposite. Being informed means hope, it means life and belonging. May you continue your duties next semester with that spirit in mind.
Roberto Torres is a journalist for LUZ Periódico, the oldest college newspaper in Venezuela, published by the University of Zulia.