Issue 11, Volume 17
Headlines, facts, alternative ‘facts’ and opinions burn our eyeballs and worm into our ear canals from the moment we wake up until our last conscious moments each day. That we are living in the ‘Information Age’ is a hackneyed and obvious expression – yet it has important implications for student journalism. In this country, we can learn about virtually any topic through our search engine of choice, on social media, in podcasts and so on. When it comes to our campus magazines, papers and journals, we want localised, relevant and humanised content. It would be concerning if people were looking to De Minimis for comprehensive and perfectly accurate articles on China’s barely trade war with Australia, or some newborn celebrity name (can someone confirm that pronunciation?). We can get that from (hopefully) more credible and articulate sources.
The raison d’être of De Minimis is to share ideas, experiences, quirky interests and creativity from the law student community. It’s one of the things that gets us talking together and feeling *seen* when we can actually relate to the people, places, events and ideas mentioned in the articles. It’s a pretty unique concept that we won’t experience post-graduation – except for the future politicians amongst us who no doubt will be applauded or mocked within the Herald Sun’s shining pages of fine journalism.
Scrolling through the highly circulated articles and comments, there is a general vibe from some that De Minimis has slipped down some invisible quality hierarchy because anonymous students wrote critical and controversial statements. Whatever your opinions on that may be, it also ignores the excellent contributions that have emerged in the past few months and does a disservice to the writers who put their time, effort and importantly, their identity towards some quality entertainment. If you haven’t read them, and think De Min has ‘declined to [an] abysmal standard… that alternates between lazy inside jokes and haikus that nobody reads… with the occasional controversy-bait taking aim at their fellow students…’, then I encourage you to go and read about, inter alia, the paranormal in the law, how the pandemic may change justice in Victoria, interviews with actual adults working in the law, or an insight into current life in Hong Kong. The pieces are (or should be) objectively interesting to you, written by unique voices and relevant to our connection to each other as law students. And the debate and discussion that ensued after the publishing of the Woke Oblivion (hey, at least the title literally says ‘Unpopular Opinions’) is the robust debate to be expected and encouraged amongst a group of graduate university students. If I had wanted to remain in an ideological vacuum, I would still be a member of the Socialist Alternative and be writing an article for the Red Flag instead.  University is the time to argue, agree, change and refine our convictions.
If the only thing that appears to gain traction and engagement is (years old) rivalry between the LSS and the student body, or the private school v public school divide, or whatever, this says as much about all of us as it says about the people who wrote the pieces. And I’m not removing myself from this – my interest was obviously piqued by the buzz. But the silver lining is it also got a lot of people thinking about what they do want from our newspaper – not censorship  but not wholly gossipy content. So be brave and contribute something.
De Min is one of the most egalitarian institutions within this institution – you don’t have to have work experience, full business attire or a good WAM to share your thoughts. To the people who commented that they would consider writing something, do it. Otherwise we won’t hear about DM until another piece triggers internal divides and insecurities in our lizard brains and the comment sections pop off again.
I was inspired by the idea of finally feeling brave enough to write an article, but my brain has apparently been shrivelled by anxiety, sleep-deprivation and too much Animal Crossing these past six weeks. (Who can sell me peaches?!) So, I guess I just wrote an article about writing an article. This is, like, meta, right?
By the time I debate about whether to submit this, submit it, immediately regret it, wait for DM to post it, and someone actually reads this, I hope we have all been able to enjoy the fruits of the slight easing of restrictions. And maybe after spending time in the real world we might all have something to write about. Enjoy cracking open a cold one with a small group of friends and stay safely distanced.
 Not that there is anything wrong with being in the SA.
 Unless for the reasons stated in DM’s policy.
Hannah is a second year JD student.