The Talon has been around for a few months now, and, as an editor, I want to provide some insight into the successes and challenges we’ve faced. The Talon launch party on September 23rd, 2014 was a great success, and made our case that UBC students are looking for a critical discourse on issues that affect them. Our frequent posts have been constructive in bridging gaps between the diverse activist community on and off-campus. The Talon has helped provide people with meaningful context to issues they might find inaccessible, and has aimed to spark discourses about confronting problems in an ethical way.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we haven’t fallen short of some of our readers’ expectations. At The Talon, we have 16 active collective editors writing and editing articles, overseeing submissions, uploading content, and documenting activism on and off-campus. These contributions are in addition to our busy (mostly full-time) school schedules, part-time jobs, and our commitments in other social justice related initiatives on and off-campus. Even with our collective of activists from a multitude of different spheres and specialities, sometimes we miss things, sometimes we make mistakes, and always we are learning.
For some – if not most – of us, writing to a student body and curating media in a responsible way is a new form of writing – different from academic papers. I say this not as an excuse for mistakes, but as an acknowledgment that we’re trying something new, and sometimes there are hiccoughs along the way. Writing isn’t always easy, especially about difficult subjects related to social justice, but conversation is always necessary. For instance, I’ve attempted multiple times to write an article, and have ended up scrapping it.
This brings us to another part of our writing: the call-outs we receive. Call-outs are a necessary part of our work, as they keep us accountable to our readers, ourselves, and the broader campus as an alternative news resource for the UBC community. We want to create a space that critically engages with issues that affect students, and we do our best to make our articles relevant and compelling to students’ lives. Throughout this process, we have received some call outs about our sourcing, language, analysis, background, and reporting. Thank you for keeping us accountable, and for engaging with our work so meaningfully. We want to ensure that The Talon continues to be a space for meaningful, challenging conversation.
We have also been called out about the quantity of subject matter that we publish, the comprehensiveness of our articles, and the perspectives from which we report and publish. We are going to do better at being intersectional where needed and acknowledging our shortfalls, but given our limited capacity as editors, we can’t single-handedly write all the articles or cover all perspectives on the social justice issues that affect us all. So here is a call for all you readers, who have felt frustrated that your views or lived experiences aren’t represented, that The Talon hasn’t thoroughly discussed an issue you want to talk about, or who want to respond to a piece that moved, challenged, or enlightened you. Send us a submission, an idea, a vision! We’d be happy to work with you. Of course these submissions need to meet our guidelines and ensure, like all our material, that issues can be accessible, engaging, and ethical, as outlined by our mandate. If you don’t have any experience writing, that’s totally fine – most of us at The Talon started out without experience as well. All you need is a good idea and dedication.
We’re also in the process of planning some Writing 101 workshops with local journalists, which will be open to all previous and future contributors. We’ll let you know when these will be starting up!
So to conclude, thank you to the readers for engaging with our work and showing UBC that this is an important project. Thank you to all of those who have have submitted work, because striking conversations in social justice discourses isn’t always easy. And thank you also to all the wonderful editors whose hard work in making this project possible has inspired me in so many ways. I not only have new activists to share critiques and learn from, but I have awesome friends that have made my experience at UBC ten-times over.
So, here’s to a brand new semester with The Talon! We look forward to seeing more submissions, and more inspiring activism on campus in the coming months.
Keep fighting the good fight.