Back at TU/e, as interim editor-in-chief
After more than 25 years, I’m back on the TU/e campus. In 1996, I graduated as a Technology & Society engineer and as of this week, I am the interim editor-in-chief of online university newspaper Cursor. After a tumultuous period, it is my job to bring peace and outline a new perspective.
That requires some explanation. Because how does an engineer end up at the head of the Cursor editorial team? The answer is simple: although I was trained as an engineer, I stepped into the world of journalism shortly after graduating. I have previously worked as an editor, managing editor and (deputy) editor-in-chief, at trade journal Computable, business newspaper FD, regional newspaper De Limburger and sustainability platform Change inc. Quite a list, now that I look at it.
I have been a freelance journalist since early 2022. I write mainly about energy, climate and sustainability. Social themes where business interests and public interests collide have always fascinated me.
Situation at Cursor
And now, Cursor. I had heard that there was a “situation” at Cursor, but hadn’t really delved into the details. I was approached in mid-October. I was open to it, because as an alumnus, TU/e and Cursor are very close to my heart. After a series of exploratory talks, I soon found that there was a serious crisis of confidence. An interim position could only be viable if I had the support of both the publisher and the editorial team.
And fortunately, that is the case. That trust places a great responsibility on me. After all, it’s a challenging task, in light of all the commotion surrounding the website’s “black screen” in early October. In the unlikely event that you missed it: the editors are experiencing a restriction of press freedom and the editor-in-chief has been removed from his position. These are serious problems. When national newspapers are paying attention to the “situation,” and when parliamentary questions are raised, you know something is seriously wrong.
So how will I go about this? As interim editor-in-chief, I am fully committed to Cursor’s journalistic independence. I will also strictly oversee journalistic accuracy, because in practice you can only be truly independent if your stories accurately reflect the facts.
But of course, my “full commitment” can’t guarantee the journalistic position of the editorial team forever. In my opinion, the functioning of Cursor should be supported by a thorough modernization of the editorial statute. The role and structure of the editorial board should also be reviewed. In fact, everyone agrees on this, as I discovered during the exploratory talks. The big question is: how?
This is happening at TU/e
Trust isn't available on demand. You have to work on it by going back to the basics. Because what exactly is Cursor? The answer can be found on the wall of the editorial room, in large black letters: Cursor /This is happening at TU/e. A fine slogan. Because if you want to know what’s happening at TU/e, you should read Cursor. But does it provide enough direction? What is considered news for the employees, scientists, and students at TU/e? What are relevant background stories, interviews and columns for the university community? In short, what is Cursor’s journalistic identity?
By answering those fundamental questions, we will be able to find common ground again and can slowly start working on rebuilding trust. That sets the stage for a constructive discussion about a new editorial statute, the role and structure of the editorial board and the editorial board’s involvement in the appointment of the editor-in-chief.
When I walked onto campus last week, it took me a while to find the Möbius strip that had always intrigued me as a student. It was only when I took a picture that my attention was drawn to the university motto in front of it: mens agitat molem, or “spirit moves matter.” A great motto for a university that strives to make the world a little better with its brainpower and technical ingenuity. It puts into words the promise of progress that technology holds for society.
The name Cursor holds that same promise. As a writer, when I look at the blinking indicator on an empty screen, that cursor symbolizes the story that is about to unfold. Cursor as a university newspaper is the interpreter of the promise that the university community makes to society. That seems like a good starting point to redefine Cursor’s DNA.
As a relative outsider, I will try to provide guidance through the difficult process of outlining a new perspective with an open mind. Anyone who wants to share ideas about this is welcome to email me at the impractical email address: firstname.lastname@example.org