Student media outlets at the University of Sheffield have launched a petition to save their facilities after it emerged that their Student’s Union is planning to remove half of their space as part of a reorganisation to create more offices for staff.
The Media Hub, which was funded by money donated by University of Sheffield alumni for the sole purpose of giving a voice to student journalists, is shared between the Forge Press newspaper, Forge TV and Forge Radio, which have all won awards and been recognised nationally for the quality of their content. The media outlets were told by Union Officers on 15th July that the media hub would be shut down and converted into staff offices, meaning that all of the union media outlets would have to fit in to half the space they currently have.
The petition launched by Forge Media, which now has over 1500 signatures, highlights a number of potential issues that could arise due to the reduction in the amount of space available to them, including potential overcrowding which could lead to some members having to be turned away. The petition also highlights the fact that the media outlets will lose half of their available computers if the Media Hub is closed down, which could impinge on the quality the newspaper. Polly Winn, current editor of Forge Press, told The Star newspaper that the idea Forge Media could function properly in a smaller space was ‘ridiculous’.
Jem Collins, chair of the Student Publication Association – the national association of student publications of which Forge Press is a member, commented:
“Student media is one of the most important assets for any university or union, and a uniquely vital part of democracy that should be both protected and valued.”“Forge Media are longstanding members of the SPA, with a strong history of outstanding journalism, and both we as a national body, and a large number of our individual members, strongly oppose any measures which will directly damage the papers’ ability to train the journalists of the future, diminish their student voice and damage their ability to hold their university and union to account.”“From conversations with members at Forge, it is clear they have serious concerns that these changes would have serious effects on their continued ability to run, and for these reason, we strongly support their petitioning of the union”