Following an organised campaign to re-open nominations for editor of The University Times, sole candidate Mairead Maguire walked away defeated. Despite this, Maguire remains undeterred and is running again on her extensive experience and to increase accessibility and build a sense of community in the paper.
Given the result of the previous election, students may wonder why Maguire, the paper’s current Deputy Editor, is running again – which she says is a “really fair question”.
“Students have the right to vote to re-open nominations, and I have the right to run again. But all that aside, I have a vision for the paper and I really want to see it through”.
Maguire is sticking to the core tenets of her previous manifesto – maintaining the paper’s professionalism and opening it up to marginalised students – but she is placing greater emphasis on the complaints process.
“I’ve been in UT for two years now. I’ve dedicated thousands of hours to finding stories, mentoring writers [and] putting together our print issues.”
“Students deserve an editor with a proven track record of dedication, and I’m the one who can give it to them”, she says.
I’ve dedicated thousands of hours to finding stories, mentoring writers and putting together our print issues
The last campaign was overshadowed by unproven allegations of journalistic misconduct levelled against Maguire, which she has strenuously and repeatedly denied. Nonetheless, she says she has listened to students’ concerns at a town hall meeting hosted by The University Times, and welcomes the commissioning of an external investigation into the events which led to the accusations arising.
“I think people appreciate that we’ve taken those steps”, she says.
She says that since her first campaign for Editor, she’s “had the opportunity and the time to listen to more students, consult more people and learn more about the paper. So I feel like I’m able to give even more than I would have been”.
The town hall also saw concerns raised regarding the paper’s complaints process. To address this, Maguire outlines her plans to implement a board of advisors as another avenue for people to lodge complaints. Such a board was incorporated into a proposed new constitution for Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union, but the draft document is yet to be voted on by students.
The board, Maguire says, “would be a group of professional journalists, lawyers, etc. who would be there to hold us accountable and also give us advice for whenever we are dealing with difficult situations”.
Since the last campaign, I’ve had the opportunity and the time to listen to more students, consult more people and learn more about the paper
“We are members of the Press Council of Ireland which people can always make complaints through but people have asked for another process and I think, listening to them, the board of advisors could really help address some of their concerns”, she adds.
The role of editor of The University Times is a challenging one that involves breaking news, managing a team of over 70 writers, producing print issues throughout the year, updating the website and working with advertisers.
As Deputy Editor, Maguire is “very aware of how demanding the role of editor is and I’ve seen that first-hand from being second-in-command for nearly six months now”. Nonetheless, she says she is well prepared to take on the challenge having a wealth of experience at the paper. “I’ve written news, features [and] opinion. I’ve managed over 70 staff. I’ve mentored dozens of people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Describing how she would ensure that The University Times continues to break stories, she outlines the importance of listening to staff.
“A lot of our stories come through our staff. So it could be something that’s concerning them or their coursemates.”
“For example, I recently broke a story about a new attendance tracker in the school of social work, which I heard from a social work student who’s in the paper, and that’s one way that we keep our ear to the ground”.
As Editor, if anything goes wrong, it’s ultimately on you
In addition, she also emphasises her “good relationships with some of the key players in higher education” which can be valuable sources for stories.
Maguire’s journalistic experience has also provided her with an understanding of Irish defamation law, which she says is crucial for the Editor. “If anything goes wrong, it’s ultimately on you.”
On the more technical side, Maguire notes the skills she has learned in relation to producing print issues: “I’ve a few print weekends under my belt and that means I know a lot about layout. So whether that be broadsheet, magazine or Radius, we’re finding what stories are going in, where they’re going to go [and] making sure they look good.”
Having “covered climate related issues pretty extensively in the past year”, Maguire is keen to reduce the paper’s environmental impact and suggests reducing the number of pages in each issue. She also wants to focus more attention on securing advertising for the paper and says that she and the paper’s senior masthead “have started thinking quite seriously about what the kind of advertisers we would accept and also the way that we could really reach out to those that that we want to work with and make this an appealing offer for them”.
Building a sense of community within the paper is another pillar of Maguire’s campaign. She hopes to expand this community by encouraging LGBTQ+ and disabled students to write for the paper through a mentorship programme. She also hopes that the number of social events can be increased to build relationships between the paper’s staff.
The editor, she says, is “responsible for everyone’s work and their welfare in the paper. You want to make sure that people are happy, and that’s that means a lot to me because happy people work hard and happy people stay and they get all the value out of this experience that they can”.