On the Record: Covering Student Government
Providing insight into The Eagle’s Student Government coverage
Every semester, The Eagle hires two Student Government beat reporters. For several current staffers, myself included, it is one of the first jobs they had at The Eagle. In this role, the reporters attend Undergraduate Senate meetings, stay up to date on initiatives and happenings within SG and, most importantly, hold student government accountable. One of the things that make this job so important is that it is where many of us have learned the fundamentals of reporting. SG reporters learn how to find and maintain sources, follow up on stories and be persistent.
When I was a freshman SG reporter, an older Eagle staffer and former SG reporter told me that when covering SG, remember that 18 to 22-year-olds are in charge of almost a quarter of a million dollars of student money every year. Our job at The Eagle, they said, was to make sure that SG was using such funds responsibly. This is one of the first pieces of advice I now give to new SG reporters, and in my view, one of the most important ones.
In covering SG, The Eagle is committed to making sure SG is accountable for truly advocating for and representing the student body. Whether that be the spending of student money, or looking into new initiatives and events, it is the job of our reporters to ask questions and seek their answers. Covering SG doesn’t mean looking to the loudest voices about what is happening, but thinking about the issues that can have the biggest impact on students’ lives.
According to the SG website, its mission is to “further the interests and promote the welfare of all students at AU.” Our mission, then, is to make sure SG is living up to its mission. Just like when we cover the University’s administration, our job when covering SG isn’t to be their public relations arm.
Per the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Our reporters will always seek the truth in their reporting and newsgathering, even when that truth is not necessarily favorable to the institutions in question. That doesn’t mean our reporters come in hoping to find wrongdoing committed by SG. Instead, our reporters come in with questions that they are seeking the answers to.
We can’t cover every single Undergraduate Senate bill or meeting by a subcommittee. SG reporters have a lot to cover, and they do their best to bring the AU community the most newsworthy information about SG. If there is something important you think we are missing, feel free to reach out to me or Editor-in-Chief Clare Mulroy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m proud of The Eagle’s work covering such an important body on campus. Although SG may not be on the top of every single student’s mind all of the time, holding SG accountable through our coverage is central to our mission as the campus newspaper.