Editorial: The recent University Times leadership debacle brings into question whether the Editor should be paid.

Matthew Joyce

Image Credit: Alison Clair

When I became Editor-in-Chief in March of this year, I was delighted when I also found out I’d be working with Muiris as my Deputy Editor. We both had big ambitions and plans for the paper, and we wanted to grow this paper into the best student publication in Ireland. 

We have an incredible editorial team that are creating fantastic content for the College View, and that work will continue and steadily improve as the academic year goes on.

However, over the past few days, I have had an epiphany of sorts – caused by the crisis within the University Times (UT) of Trinity College Dublin.

Over the weekend, the UT has seen its confidence in Editor Ailbhe Noonan spiral, with a letter published this past weekend from 32 of 49 editorial staff calling for the Editor to resign, mentioning accusations of lying to staff and a lack of communication between her and her staff. 

Two particular quotes I noticed to be profound included her leaving her office “at 3pm on Friday of print weekend and did not return until the afternoon of the following day”, adding that when she “abandoned [her] responsibilities and forced the rest of the senior masthead team and the Radius editor to assume [her] workload” they spent a collective total of 150 hours producing the paper. That happened two weeks ago, according to the letter.

Reading this letter, I was disgusted at what I was learning. You cannot abandon a ship that you are the captain of and leave your crewmates to do your work.

But one thing I need to emphasise, and it’s one thing that has been on my mind since I read that letter, is that her role is a full-time paid role, similar to sabbatical officer roles in the Student’s Union – she was elected in a similar way, and was expected to run the paper, and she even had her own office. However it is essential to note that she is not a sabbatical officer of TCD Students’ Union.

These are not luxuries that I get to have. I do not get paid for my role as Editor-in-Chief, I do not have a personal office – but instead, I have to juggle my full-time education as a final-year Journalism student, with everything that comes with that; part-time employment outside of DCU; and on top that, running a student publication. Noonan, as far as I am aware, does not have to balance all of this, as her role as UT Editor is on a full-time paid basis.

As a result, if these allegations turn out to be true, her position as Editor becomes untenable and unjust, as she is not living up to the role, which, again, is paid. 

If you are elected to a role where you are expected to run a paper on a full-time basis, whilst receiving a wage, you must be expected to fulfil this role. I am fulfilling my roles as Editor-in-Chief, but while I am not getting paid, I am getting experience that will be with me for years to come. 

I will always be grateful to my colleagues at the College View, especially my Deputy Editor, for the amazing work they do to create well-written and well-produced journalism in so many sections – and while we do not get paid for it, we certainly receive our wage in experience and in the ability to make mistakes and learn from them. 

However, the responsibilities of the job, especially when paid on a full-time basis, must be far greater, as you are expected to lead, and when you fail to do so, you are not worthy of the job.

Finally, I want to add one last point – if Noonan gets paid for the job, why does no other editor get paid? We fulfil the exact same role, for the exact same purpose. One may do it on a full-time basis, however the jobs still get done regardless. But in the case that I cannot get paid, Noonan should not either. And she especially should not get paid if she does not fulfil the roles and responsibilities that she chose to run for.

Matthew Joyce

Image Credit: Alison Clair