In the ever evolving world of journalism, student journalism is often the most under appreciated. In particular, student print journalism is quickly fading into the background. At our own school, The Quill stands proud after 108 years of continuous printing. We are the oldest student run publication in Western Canada, and the second oldest in this country.
That being said, it is not an unreasonable fear for this Editor that an end to our print publications could come. Just two hours to the East, The Manitoban at the University of Manitoba faced a potential end early last week. A motion was struck by the Commerce Students’ Association to the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) to discontinue funding to The Manitoban from UMSU, and effectively shuttering production.
That motion was laid down later in the week, and The Manitoban is continuing to print as regularly scheduled, but this had me thinking: what is journalism worth to Southern Manitoban institutions? Brandon University does not have a journalism program, and offers only one journalism class. There is no way for students who are interested in journalism to get a decent education within the province (aside from the University of Winnipeg, and that is a highly competitive program).
How much of a shelf life does print media have? More and more, even major news conglomerates are moving toward a digital presence. To me, there is still relevance in a print edition (as is evidenced by the fact that this very article has been printed on a piece of newsprint, smearing ink on your fingers). There is still something satisfying about opening a paper fresh from the printers and recognizing the effort that layout editors put into the daily, or weekly, or biweekly, issue.
That being said, there is a definite bonus to working with a digital addition to your print copy. The Quill prints weekly, leaving us to catch up quickly or to work with stale news. If we publish online, we can have a story up the day it happens, with instant updates. Would The Manitoban have moved to an online format, had the motion succeeded? It’s hard to say.
The Quill is the only publication in Manitoba that is an active member of the Canadian University Press. While many of CUP’s members are also moving towards an online presence, they all still print a physical copy at least once a month in the form of a magazine, or twice a month, or weekly. We have a certain amount of protection with CUP should we fall under such a motion. They would help us work out a business plan.
I humbly ask that you consider the following: would you prefer that The Quill revamp our presence and move more toward the online world? Do you like the weekly appearance of our issues on newsstands around campus? Let me know at EIC@TheQuill.ca.