#thetimeisnow

What would happen if student media were to dissolve? The Progressive Conservative party’s plan to make ancillary fees optional is an incredibly dangerous move for student media

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Premier Doug Ford’s recent move to make ancillary fees optional can affect a number of valuable groups and services on campus. On a campus that prides itself in student life as much as McMaster does, many of these groups are left to question what is to be deemed essential by the university. The Silhouette is in a similar position.

The Silhouette has been McMaster’s student-run newspaper for 89 years. For a university without a journalism program, this is particularly impressive. We’ve been through generations of passionate staff members, critical eyes at city hall and decades of keeping McMaster’s students and administration accountable.

This past year, we’ve turned around our online presence and have reached up to 300 per cent more people through our coverage. Our audience engagement is the highest is has ever been and more people are relying on the Silhouette as their immediate news source. Not only that, but over the past decade we’ve won awards, both locally and nationally, for the work that we put into this paper.

If the Silhouette were to dissolve at the hands of a government who campaigned for free speech on campus, what would that look like? Local news outlets do not have the capacity to cover McMaster or student specific news, nor do they have the capacity to cover issues in student government. For the most part, if you look at any student-centric stories that local news sources have covered, student media has covered the same stories first.

If you need an example of this, Ryerson’s student-run newspaper, the Eyeopener, was first to report on a story in which the five-member executive team that governs the Ryerson Student Union had spent over $250,000 using the union’s credit cards. After the Eyeopener reported on this, several major news sites, including the CBC, CP24, BlogTO, Vice and CTV News among other major outlets released coverage on the matter.

If you need an example of something that is closer to home, following our coverage of the Hamilton Student Mobilization Network’s protest at McMaster on Jan. 30, Cable 14 Hamilton covered the protest and used our video footage in their segment, City Matters.

We have continuously proven ourselves as a valuable service that the McMaster Students Union provides, but we’re left in the dark about what our next steps are to prevent the total dissolving of a paper with a legacy as long as the Sil’s. For the past two weeks, we’ve been having long meetings with MSU members, Canadian University Press representatives, lawyers and university administration to conjure up the best course of action and hopefully, we can continue to be a valuable news source for years to come.

 

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