Epigram Editorial: Trains and Consent

Issue 290 for you all!

It’s been a bit of a frantic week at Epigram, what with Welcome Fair, changing deadlines and dealing with the national media. But we’ve definitely hit the ground running, and learned a lot in the process.

Never when we first reported on the chaos en route to Tokyo World, did we expect it to receive so much media coverage.

News outlets including The Guardian, Daily Mail, Bristol 24/7 and The Metro have contacted us asking for images and quotes, and our News Editor, Sorcha Bradley, even appeared on the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 as well as the BBC News at 10.

Whatever the cause, I think one interesting journalistic point to emerge from the story is the ease at which situations can be manipulated and misreported in the press.

It’s interesting that there has been such a high degree of interest in a bunch of students forcing their way off an overcrowded train.

Perhaps it’s because of the relevance of Jeremy Corbyn’s recent commitment to renationalise train companies, or because of the hugely negative and accusatory reaction of the train companies themselves, or even due to the rarity of similar incidents.

Whatever the cause, I think one interesting journalistic point to emerge from the story is the ease at which situations can be manipulated and misreported in the press.

Many of the original reports in the mainstream press suggested that students were unruly and wanted to disembark the train at Redland, or thought pulling the emergency cord was a laugh.

Everyone will have their own opinions about whether pulling the emergency cord was justified or not

From speaking to people who were actually there, it is clear that this was not the case, and demonstrates the importance of accurate research before writing articles.

Everyone will have their own opinions about whether pulling the emergency cord was justified or not, but it is important to provide readers with all of the facts, not half of them. Journalism should not be about telling people what to think, but giving people both sides of the argument so they can make up their own minds.

But what is almost more concerning is the comments which have been left on articles that are so anti-students, calling us ‘spoilt kids’, or suggesting that students are ‘young idiots who think they have a right to do exactly what they want regardless of the laws.’

Students are often stigmatised in the media, and I think that if it was a group with a more mixed demographic there would not have been the same rude and prejudiced comments.

But this week hasn’t purely been about trains!

Indeed another hugely important issue that has been raised is that of sexual consent. The University and Student Union has made a huge inroad in including sexual consent workshops and quizzes in Welcome Week for the first time this year.

Drawing attention to the issue is vital, and I was shocked when an Epigram investigation discovered in October last year that 46 per cent of students thought a rape culture existed at Bristol.

Although I think it would have been even more positive is sessions had been made mandatory, it’s great to see the University and Union beginning a discussion with students and putting the issue on the agenda.

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