By Sydney Brasil
After a long day of checking his social media feeds during his six-hour Zoom lab, second-year student Haden Nuff was outraged.
“What demographic is The Eyeopener looking to speak to now? Students who had trouble making friends in residence, or is this another weed article?”
As the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for terrified, sweaty first-year Ryerson journalism students to pester pedestrians for “streeters”(innocent civilians minding their own business who are expected to give a candid comment on current events), all source-finding traffic has been redirected to already over-populated Facebook groups such as “Accepted: Ryerson University Class of 2022,” “Accepted: Ryerson University Class of 2024,” and “Ryerson Instagram Infographic Making Club.”
Nuff had only read half of third-year journalism student Ri Porter’s post asking to speak with students who commit fare evasion to get to class when he rage-closed his laptop. “This is the 14th post like this I’ve seen today, and trust me, I’ve been counting!”
While Nuff failed to recall what this week’s reading in his lab was about, he had much to say about The Eye’s source finding tactics. “No Facebook group is safe. This is the ‘Hey hun, come join my tribe of legging-selling boss babes!’ of the academic world.”
The Eye’s editor-in-chief Catherine Abes says that this is the price to pay for good student journalism, besides the small fee included in student’s tuition. She would also like to note, “If you opted out last year, the fires of hell are more forgiving than I.”
Abes refuses to apologize for the oversaturation of reporters looking for interviews in Facebook groups and firmly stands with Porter. “We aren’t the only campus publication that does this, mmkay? Y’all haven’t seen anything yet, just wait until we’re forced to change our fun and satire section policy so they have to find real sources. We got a cease and desist from president Mohamed Lachemi’s office after roasting him in every recent issue, so he could make us implement this policy change any day now out of spite.”
It was after this interview that the blame was shifted to not only The Eye, but to all the other student journalists, some going as far as calling them “Theatre kids who can’t sing.”
To avoid a campus-wide cancellation of student journalists, many publications have begun to speak up. In a joint statement, New Wave Magazine editors-in-chief Emily Peotto and Vanessa Quon said, “We rely on the generosity of student sources and we apologize for the spam. We do however want to make clear that all of our contributors come from people scrolling these groups looking for an excuse to publish slam poetry about their skater ex-boyfriends.”
Despite the backlash against student journalists at large, there has been an outpouring of support for Porter’s upcoming story.
“I had at LEAST 20 people reach out to me wanting to be interviewed after that fight blew up in the comment section of my post,” said Porter. “As a result, I have some really interesting data on fare evasion. Did you know that multiple students have pretended to be asleep to avoid being confronted by fare inspectors? One student even says they’re pushing to get the urban sport recognized by the International Olympic Committee.”
But not all students are as generous as the ones willing to help Porter. An anonymous source who wishes to be identified as “Bofa” says they respond to story callouts only to get the writer’s hopes up. “I honestly just love being the reason young journos stay up at night wondering why they got a 69 instead of a 70 on their story day article. Nice.”
Studies show that journalists are more likely to look for sources in Facebook groups instead of on Twitter or Instagram because they are less likely to come across as a local. They leave it to The Eye to utilize the other social media platforms to beg for advertisers to buy space on their website.
Despite all the backlash, it doesn’t look like The Eye is going to ask its writers to cool it down with the Facebook posts. Instead, Abes has told her reporters to “Go buckwild for all [she] cares” in an email sent out to the masthead on Tuesday.