A new left-wing publication the Red Pen is in the process of being set up in Trinity. Aiming to “provide articulate journalism with a progressive bent”, the journal is expected to begin publishing content online this term, just weeks after the right-wing Burkean Journal was launched.
With its website currently under construction, the new publication is hoping to fill what it sees as a left-wing niche in Trinity.
Speaking to The University Times by email, Maia Mathieu, founder of the publication and a second year BESS student, described the aim of the Red Pen as to “address, critique and critically examine news, culture and media from a leftist perspective”. The publication was originally titled the Trinity Progressive, before the name was changed by a vote of the publication’s working-group.
According to Mathieu, the publication currently has “nearly a dozen people” in the core working group as well as a “more casual interest beyond that in terms of contributions and readership”. It has yet to assign editorial positions to its members.
The Red Pen has chosen for now not to apply for a grant from Trinity Publications, with its immediate target being the establishment of “an online presence”. Mathieu did not, however, rule out the possibility of the publication applying for the grant in the future, admitting to having “left it on the table to apply for a grant next semester”. Mathieu confirmed that it is not “in receipt of outside funding”.
The establishment of the Red Pen comes hot on the heels of the formation of the conservative publication the Burkean Journal, which was formed in September. The Burkean Journal has attracted national attention, with one of the co-founders, Louis Hoffman, recently profiled by The Phoenix. The publication has already attracted some kind of notoriety on campus – its right-wing slant has attracted both admirers and critics in the few weeks since launching. Significantly, the publication received funding from prominent pro-life campaigner Declan Ganley.
Mathieu explained that the decision of the Red Pen to focus initially on the online side of things was to explore the potential for “increased shareability, easier reader commentary, and a more timely turnaround”. She also pointed out that “most people have access to the internet even if they don’t have the opportunity to grab a print magazine on campus”.
Mathieu admitted that the journal does not “have an exact timeline” for its launch, though it does have an active Facebook page. She explained that “The Red Pen comes from a place of frustration” at the “apathetic, anti-political attitude” which she believes characterises “much of Trinity’s political discourse”. She referenced the defeat of the motion to boycott Israel at a meeting of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) as an example of this outlook among students.
The Red Pen will aim to “provide an outlet for the developing class consciousness” that Mathieu claimed is “exemplified in Students Against Fees gaining so much traction”. “Traditional news outlets like UT or TN are for reporting the news, but the Red Pen is for questioning it”, she said.
The establishment of the Red Pen means there are now student publications at both ends of the political spectrum, in opposition to what Mathieu called the “carefully centrist” rhetoric of student politics in Trinity.