Welcome to the first ever monthly editor's letter at the Maastricht Diplomat. Yes, it's four months after this brand spanking new site went live, but that's kind of the theme for today. A little bit of patience goes a long way. This new site, along with a whole new philosophy of how the Maastricht Diplomat is tackling student journalism in our lovely little city, has long been a work in progress. Undoubtedly, it will be a process that will continue long after my tenure at the helm. But, as they say, all good things take time.
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a number of challenges at us. Our traditional format, a tri-annual magazine and a rickety old WordPress site held together by spit, a prayer, and far too many plugins for my processor to handle, was just no longer feasible. Handing out magazines is a practice better suited for when it was acceptable to touch fingers not elbows, and quite honestly, I was looking forward to scrapping WP altogether anyway. Along with the rest of the world, the challenge of how to survive in a post-pandemic world was dropped in our laps and although it could have been seen as a tolling of the death knell, we saw it as an opportunity to press the refresh button and see what else we could do in the world of student journalism.
So we moved totally online (or so we thought, but more on that later). Initially we revamped the old WP site, but when the opportunity arose for a change in provider, it was hopped on. Out with the old, in with the new - or something like that. This new site has provided us with spaces for a fresh new look, multiple new sections, and a whole new personality. To go along with this, we have expanded our reach into a new media format - podcasting. It was something we have dabbled our toes in over the years, with a little help from our friends (eternal gratitude to Student Radio Maastricht for their generous lending out of equipment!), but this year the time seemed ripe for jumping in at the deep end. A single microphone and a few platforms to broadcast on, how difficult could it be? Well, trickier than expected but also a whole heap of fun. The latest episode can be found on Spotify and our very own maastrichtdiplomat.org, give it a listen and drop us a comment.
Keeping in line with the United Nations Student Association as a whole (they're our umbrella corporation parents - unsamaastricht.org), our social media game had to be upped. If the world is moving online, then we've got to move with it. This has perhaps been our largest challenge so far, as it turns out social media and journalism are not exactly one and the same. But with some expert advice from our in-house gen Z members, we feel that we're slowly getting a grasp on it. Or at least I do, but then again I'm half millennial half boomer, so what do I know? I still remember Paint on Windows 95 and playing on a Tamagotchi instead of paying attention in English class. Give us a follow on @thediplomatunsa and let us know how we're doing.
But, that's not all! It seems that the old MD is not giving in so easily. That's right, the print edition is here to stay. In an unexpected, but oh-so-welcome, collaboration with the wonderful humans over at EuroMUN, there will be a hard copy of our hard work. It seems that print will never die and, coming from a veteran of eight editions over the previous three years, I'm glad that I can close out my career with a time honoured tradition after all. This coming May the MD x EuroMUN magazine will feature our writers and their topics, bringing together two of the largest committees in the UNSA for a bumper pack of stories and debates from around the globe. For more information on EuroMUN and what Europe's favourite Model United Nations conference is, take a gander at euromun.net and get stoked - it's the largest student-run conference offered through UM and a well-respected stepping stone to a career in the UN, World Bank, World Food Bank, and other global institutes trying to right some of the wrongs in the world. Stay tuned to our channels for the drop, we'll let you know.
As you can tell, there is a lot to play for here and a lot of work to be done. But we at the MD believe that we are on the right path to bring you what we believe is important, conversations on the most pertinent topics of today; from local and international politics to the latest absolute bangers and hidden literary gems of the 20th century, with everything else in-between. So stay tuned and please be patient, for Rome wasn't built in a day.
Michael William Keith