Here at UC Irvine, we are truly lucky not only to study and work at an eminent university campus, but also to have the opportunity to actively participate in many of the local democratic processes that help to govern this country as a whole. News media’s relationship to government is one of the most fundamental of these democratic processes, dating back to Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” which helped to light the fires of revolution in Colonial America.
Although our government has a system of checks and balances built into its different branches and departments, the media acts as the ultimate arm of direct democracy, at once a large, multifaceted business and a body of public servants. Besides informing the public, it keeps many pairs of eyes upon those who govern — the ultimate watchdog. Yet the media is not above the law, or the control of the public. Just as newspapers, television newscasts, magazines, radio programs and countless blogs and online media tools all keep the public accountable, the public is able to keep the media accountable.
None of this is new, and all of you, readers, already know this, perhaps without even thinking about it. The above is assumed by the American public, to a large degree on a subconscious level, woven deeply into the national fabric, written into our laws and our lore.
All these assumptions hold true at UCI, with ASUCI governing the undergraduate student body, and KUCI, the New University, Incite Magazine and many other media sources serving the campus.
As an on-campus organization, it is often assumed that the New U receives funding from UCI, whether from the administration, Dean of Students or from our umbrella organization, ASUCI. It’s generally bad news for the media to be run in part by a governing body, and the separation between us and them is very distinct.
Rather than receiving a portion of student fees, grants or any other source of income from this campus, the New U is a self-sustained, student-run endeavor. We have an entire team of advertising executives who are hard-working, dedicated students just like us. Their weekly duties are to book advertisements from clubs and organizations, local businesses and nationwide campaigns to make sure we meet (and sometimes exceed) our yearly budget. Without them, our editorial board, staff writers, photographers and artists would be unpaid volunteers.
Though we are unfunded, we are certainly not unaffiliated. As of the 2009-10 academic year, the New U has been under the umbrella of ASUCI. They take care of our Human Resources needs and provide us with advocacy.
Aside from this, the biggest contribution ASUCI makes in our favor is collaboration on big stories that affect the UC system, our campus and giving us access to events.
Our job as the official newspaper of UCI is to provide our campus with news. Additionally, we are not here to build up school spirit or lavish UCI with unmitigated praise. However, our job is absolutely not to meaninglessly tear our campus down. We are students here too and we do love this university. Our criticism is not meant to defame, it is to offer perspective and to encourage growth.
So here’s our call to you, fellow Anteaters: enter into a dialogue with us. Understand us, call us out, talk to us, get to know us and accept us as more than the faceless media. Accept us as your classmates.