By Tomás Heneghan
Twelve weeks ago I took on a new challenge. I arrived down to Limerick again for an unexpected eleventh semester in UL (although two of those were spent on co-op and Erasmus). It was to be a test of my abilities as a journalist and as a leader of sorts. I had successfully convinced the decision-makers of the Students’ Union that I would be a qualified Editor for An Focal. I was to bring it back in a sort of blaze of glory.
Though my An Focal journey began way back in October 2014, twelve weeks ago marked a new aspect in my relationship with this newspaper. From reporter a year ago to Editor now I was sure I knew the newspaper, the campus and the students well enough to bring something unique to my time at An Focal. I had big plans, massive plans and in reality not nearly enough time to develop and implement them all in my 12 or so weeks.
I’d like to now believe I’ve achieved at least some of what I set out to do. None of it was done alone. I was at the receiving end of spectacular help and support from contributors, SU and UL staff and a dedicated and hard-working team of regular writers. I also hope I had the support of the student body here too. I hope I met my obligations to students to give you all the news and content you wanted to see.
The journey is not over now. Thankfully I will be staying on at An Focal for second semester too. It was a deviation from the plan as it stood twelve weeks ago but a very welcome one. I now have more time to bring in more changes to An Focal and open it further to students, staff and the wider community.
An Focal is your newspaper for your views. It has to reflect this or the newspaper’s purpose becomes blurred and eventually disappears. A newspaper however can never cater to all people, all of the time, especially when the audience is at the very least 13,000 people. We try though to provide balance. Sometimes content might not be what you want to see or read but this cannot be allowed to diminish An Focal’s duty to the community here in UL.
We’ve had an interesting semester filled with events, controversial news and opinions, and hopefully a revival of this newspaper. There has also been outside interest in An Focal with some of the content appearing on student website, Campus.ie and the newspaper being read and positively commented on by those in other media groups, such as the Limerick Leader.
Next semester will hopefully see more news and a significant increase in the range of content available to read. There’ll also be many more fantastic opportunities for writers and contributors too, especially with both a General Election and a Students’ Union election coming up next semester. There’s also the news that a political party leaders debate may be hosted by RTÉ in UL before the General Election.
There is of course the big referendum too, which is covered in a few articles in this newspaper. A new student centre could be on the horizon and considering the debates surrounding the previous two in 2012 and 2014 on a similar issue, this promises to be a matter of discussion throughout semester two.
The year looks promising for An Focal and I’m honoured that I can continue to oversee it. But before that, there’re those assignments and exams to contend with. They’re not fun, but unfortunately necessary. Take a read through the exam and study tips here in An Focal and get in touch with Marian, the SU Academic Officer, Ciara, the SU Welfare Officer or any of the services available to students in UL during exam season.
Finally, a sincere and genuine thank you for everything you’ve given to An Focal over the past twelve weeks. Best of luck in the exams and (though it technically is only November) happy pre-Christmas.