Editorial: Reflecting on 70 years of Trinity News and looking to the future

A note from Kate Henshaw, Editor-in-Chief of the 70th edition

Welcome to the 70th anniversary issue of Trinity News. As Ireland’s oldest student newspaper, we have been around for some seismic shifts in this country’s political and cultural landscape. From its inception this paper has provided a space for students to express themselves and learn the ropes of journalism. In short, Trinity News is a passion project for each and every student involved in running it. The newspaper is a large-scale operation and the number of staff we now have and how we’ve evolved over the last 70 years is a testament to students’ passion. From media staff including photographers, artists, social media editors, and videographers to section editors, copyeditors, and contributors to our executive staff and Editor-in-Chief, everyone cares deeply about the paper. 

When I took on the Editor role in May this year, I did so because I really believe in what Trinity News brings to student life in College. That is the reason I and all the 70+ staff members are here. In this anniversary issue we have had the opportunity to look back at our history (both the good and the bad). The culture in Trinity has changed hugely over the past 70 years and we would like to believe that the paper has evolved with it. Looking back at previous editions, our paper is nearly unrecognisable. Every Editor has a different vision for what Trinity News should be and that is reflected in the diversity of styles we’ve had over the years. It is extremely difficult to try to summarise 70 years of history in one editorial, so instead I propose that we should use this 70th anniversary to look forward as well as backwards. 

It is a fantastic achievement that Trinity News has survived and thrived this long, if you’ve seen any marketing for the paper you’ll know that we use the slogan “Ireland’s oldest student newspaper” in almost everything. However, as the oldest student newspaper in Ireland we have a duty to examine our past with a critical eye. Though some of our first Editors were women, we began publishing in a completely different Trinity to the Trinity we publish in now, a far less equal one. That is reflected in a few of our pieces over the years; some of them have simply not aged well. When we look at our archive some articles put forward some extremely misogynistic views of past Editors. For example an article examined by our Features section for this issue found an Editorial from 1954 where the Editor points out that women are as “mentally and morally” different to men “as they are physically”. This Editor also states that university education is a “waste of time and money for any woman”. Hence why it is important to look at our growth with this critical eye in order to make sure that the paper continues to push forward on issues of equality, both on campus and in wider Irish society. We have come far and we have further still to go both as a paper and as a College.

Fundamentally, Trinity News is a place for students to express themselves with the hope that other students may see pieces of themselves in articles. Across 10 sections Trinity News explores a variety of student issues. We have a thriving news section that holds College and student leaders to account. Features that go in depth on these issues and wider ones. Comment pieces where students can unapologetically stand up for what they believe in. SciTech where student writers explain some of the most complex science and technology issues. Sport where the greatest of Trinity Sport is showcased and five Life sections where students discuss everything from sex and sexuality to arts, food, societies and student living. Some of these sections have been around since the paper’s foundation, whereas others have only been introduced in the last few years, but they all hold importance for students in finding themselves and informing other students about what is going on in their College. Our Life sections in particular allow students to learn about some of the topics that could have been considered taboo in the early years of the paper. That is something that we as a paper are extremely proud of. If these articles can help even one student to better understand themselves, their health, their sexuality, the politics of their country, then it’s worth doing. These are not easy topics for students to grapple with but there is something very special about hearing this information from your peers. Older students in College sharing what they learnt in their first couple of years and especially LGBTQ+ students discussing their journeys can mean so much to students coming to College for the first time and beginning to discover who they are. I think back to my first year and reading articles in the paper and how much articles on mental health in the Trinity News Life sections helped me to better understand myself as a young adult. I hope that is something other students have gotten from the paper and something I hope they will continue to.

That is why the student voice is central to Trinity News. We encourage students to share their stories and knowledge with other students directly, while also fostering writing and editing skills. This paper should be a place that students feel comfortable approaching. We don’t take the trust we’ve garnered for granted and we have a duty to maintain and grow that trust.  We are in a privileged position and we would like to believe that we use that position for good. However, we are also aware that our position as a vehicle for student voice on campus is not a right. Our duty is to students first and foremost. Looking back on our past and looking forward to our future, this is something that has always remained true. We have had 70 years in this position and we as a paper are grateful, but we are also aware of the duty we have to learn from our past mistakes and grow from them. As we look to the next 70 I hope that the Editors of the 75th, the 100th and beyond can sit here and write a similar editorial about how far the paper has come. By the time the next big anniversary rolls around I hope the staff of that Trinity News can be as proud of their paper as we are of ours now.

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is current Editor-in-Chief of Trinity News, and a graduate of Sociology and Social Policy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.