Your Principal has had an interesting week. On Thursday I learned that I have been appointed to the Editorial Board of The Conversation, the charitable media outlet that publishes news stories written by academic researchers. I have long been a fan this title that one admirer calls 'a crucial channel for academics seeking to share their research knowledge with the world'.
The Conversation does tremendous work to promote research excellence and advertise the value of great universities. I have published on the site a dozen articles based on my own research. I am thrilled to have the chance to help guide its editorial strategy.
Ofcom's decision to revoke CGTN's licence to broadcast made my life additionally interesting. On outlets ranging from BBC Radio 4's World Tonight to The National, a website based in the UAE, I explained why the Chinese Communist Party's TV channel does not meet the standard of editorial independence required to function as a news broadcaster in the UK. CGTN was not the first to fall at this hurdle. Iran's Press TV faced a similar sanction in 2012. RT, the pro-Putin Russian channel still transmitting to UK audiences may suffer the same fate.
Plainly, the 'liberty and equality' to which we all swear loyalty at South matters deeply to me. I am a dedicated democrat and the system of government I promote and defend relies on constant argument. Without the free exchange of ideas, and a plurality and diversity of opinion, democracy flounders and dies. With this principle in mind, I must turn from international television stations to the more important topic of the South College JCR.
Your JCR Executive does crucial work. The members are elected to represent you and to ensure your experience of Durham is as rich, rewarding, and fun as it can be. They do a great job. I know next year's executive will take their duties equally seriously and continue the work to make South the undisputed finest College in Durham. However, to ensure that, it is crucial that we have proper democratic contests for every role.
At present we have only one excellent candidate for each of two crucial jobs: President and Bar Steward. This is South. We understand that you need two candidates to ensure a proper contest and that three might be even better. At South, our JCR should always be led by candidates who have won their mandate in a fair fight. So, if you are even thinking about standing, stop worrying and give it a go. If you'd like to speak to Richard or me, or Lee, or Lynn or Steven, we are at your disposal. Nominations close next Friday. You know it is a very nice bar and, if you are considering a run for the presidency, well, Richard tells me it is a very nice flat....