July 25, 2014
The following article is about one of our former students, Jack Gevertz, who while studying at York University has been awarded Student Journalist of the Year. Congratulations Jack!
|Student Journalist of the Year is Jack Gevertz from York University Students’ Union
Student journalism is about more than just news and information. It’s about being able to engage, challenge and draw opinions from the student body to progress the environment we live in.
Throughout this first year, Jack has achieved an immense amount being involved in the UK’s most awarded student newspaper, York Vision. He has covered stories on racism, homophobia, mental health and animal welfare. He recognises that through highlighting these societal issues, we can create a society that’s more diverse, open and free, not just for students but for the wider public body too.
Jack threw himself into journalism from the moment he joined the university in September last year. He immediately ran for the position of News Editor at York Vision, a position usually reserved for older students who are more familiar with the way the university runs. Yet, at just 18 years old he found himself steering the newspaper through one of its biggest splashes in recent years, an article on students ‘blacking up’ at university, which was subsequently picked up by the Sun, Mirror, ITV News and even as far as the Jamaican Observer.
Always keen to improve his own writing style, he’s represented York at journalism workshops at the Guardian in London and the University of Sheffield, and he’s taken to the long hours and stressful weekends of putting together ten pages of news three times a term with an almost unsettling ease. In the two terms he has been at the University of York, he’s written a staggering 120 news stories for York Vision – which would be six a week if Jack contained his writing for purely the term time, but as it happens, he’s always looking for new, exciting and interesting stories to provoke a debate, and wrote stories throughout both the Easter and the Christmas holidays.
Among one of Jack’s first stories was the sharp increase in students seeking counselling at the university over the last four years.
Here, Jack broke the news that students seeking access to mental health services had more than doubled. Since that story, Jack has reported on another racism incident involving the release of a report: “1 in 10 have suffered ‘racial discrimination’, report finds”. This is an important angle on some worrying statistics not just for the university but for society at large. Because of the sensitive nature of the story and the way it was presented, it was picked up and included in a blog by the Guardian entitled: “How widespread is racism at uni?” The co-author of the story, Zena Jarjis, was asked specifically about her experiences of racism and a national debate was started on the nature of racism and how we deal with it.
But Jack has also helped to challenge homophobia too. In January, Jack helped report on a story regarding an elected racial equality officer making some offensive views towards the LGBTQ community on Facebook. The man in question, who had only been in his position for three weeks, hailed the Ugandan ‘anti-gay’ bill and because of the report, apologised and resigned a few days later. The story also raised an important debate among social media and how what we say on sites like Facebook is recorded on a public rather than a private domain.
Since this, Jack has written a blog for the Guardian on being working class at a Russell Group university (and got experiences of similar students) to which he was asked to speak about the piece on BBC Radio 2’s The Jeremy Vine Show. He also freelances for the student section of the Independent and had a piece on a woman being sexually harassed at Cairo University sold to Ireland’s biggest-selling daily newspaper, the Irish Independent.
More recently, Jack has reported on the world’s largest animal rights organisation, PETA, which has more than 3 million members and supporters, who are concerned about the use of animals by some colleges at the university over the exam season. They are worried that the colleges are engaging in “harmful activity” by subjecting animals to the stress of “travel, handling and confinement”. This report highlighted the ethics and morals of the use of animals to ‘relieve’ exam stress and a subsequent online poll by the newspaper found that 1 in 3 students did not support having animals on campus over exam time. Some students said it was a “waste of money” whilst others said they “didn’t see a problem”.
Having been news editor for a term, and chief news reporter for two terms at York Vision, Jack is now keenly interested in joining University Radio York and York Student Television. He wants to expand his horizons and experience different media branches to see how the industry differs, all the while focusing on his main passion: reporting and writing the news in a way that students will care about.
Overall, Jack is deserving of this award because of his determination and passion for the art of news writing. He is seeking out stories all the time: through social media, on campus, and through Freedom of Information requests. He recognises the absolute value of the press in its ability to create a community on campus, to provoke debates and allow people a chance to have their say on what is happening across the university.
He considers it a privilege to work in such a fantastic media environment, where he is given the freedom to find stories and develop his own skills through the many societies that York has to offer. He would be a fantastic recipient of this award, and I can think of no other student journalist at the University who has achieved so much in their three years at York, as he has in his first year.”