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Journalism students challenge student union ban of tabloid papers on UK campus

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Students at a British university have recently ruled to ban tabloid publications the Sun, Daily Mail, and Express from campus grounds.

City University London’s student union approved a motion during its annual general meeting last week to ban the papers on the grounds that they spread fascism and social divisiveness through their content.

According to the motion, the titles publish stories that demonise refugees and minorities, post Islamophobic stories, and “actively scapegoat the working classes they so proudly claim to represent”.

It added that the media has “a duty not to stir up racial tensions and hatred just to sell papers”, arguing that editors and owners of media outlets should be “held accountable for inciting hatred”.

“Freedom of speech should not be used as an excuse to attack the weakest and poorest members of society,” it said.

The motion also said that the publications publish stories that are “inherently sexist”.

The union said in the resolution that: “There is no place for the Sun, Daily Mail or Express (in their current form), on City University London campuses or properties”.

It also said that it would encourage students to pressure these newspapers to stop fuelling “fascism, racial tension and hatred” and would cooperate with other student bodies, community organisations, and businesses to “bring about a tangible change in the way the UK’s media operate”, including reaching out to industry contacts such as the publications’ employees and shareholders.  

The university is home to the top-ranked journalism department in London, according to the Guardian University Guide.

However, not all students are on the same page as the student union, questioning the ban and slamming it for taking away freedom of choice.

Some have protested the move by lining the campus with said titles, while others have started petitions appealing for the decision to be overturned.

One of the signatories of the petition, Alexis S., left a comment on the petition page: “Saying that newspapers are fascist and then deciding the ban them is fascism in its own right. Debate and open dialogue is the correct way.”

A Master’s student in newspaper journalism at the university, Alice Cachia, said: “This is absolutely ridiculous. It should be the students’ choice whether they purchase a paper or not.

“What happened to freedom of the press? What happened to freedom of choice?” she asked, as quoted by Huffington Post.

Tom Bennett, another journalism student at the university, wrote a piece in the Guardian saying that the ban was not a good idea, as “to ban them – and, in effect, ignore the voice of swathes of the population – is to ignore the realities of modern Britain”.

He argued that many other journalism students he had spoken to were strongly opposed to the vote, adding that the ban seemed “impossible to implement”.

Some students also believe that an outright ban on the papers would not solve anything, but would instead endanger the job prospects of many of the university’s journalism students.

James Walker, 21, told Bennett: “The student union’s newspaper ban has damaged the reputation of the journalism department and, more importantly, the chances of students to get jobs in the industry.”

In a blog piece published by Huffington Post, City journalism student Jack Fenwick agreed with that point, calling the ban “nonsensical”.

“For crying out loud, these three newspapers are huge employers of City graduates,” he added.

On social media, those in the media industry have also criticised the ban.

It has been reported that students against the ban are in discussions with the student union regarding the issue.

Image via Twitter

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