Eli Ridder | Analysis
Student newspapers are publications with a history that dates back to the confederation of Canada, and the role independent papers have played in the past is instrumental and essential.
When The Avro Post was going through the process of losing its status as an IGNITE club in the spring of this year, we were told that we needed to check in with the student union anytime we wrote about them.
Staff there told us we needed to get article approval before publishing anything that involved IGNITE, because no club could bring anything detrimental against the organization. This is unique to IGNITE and to Humber College.
Student newspapers are either funded by a levy through tuition directly or supported financially by the student union, because, as a democratic society, many understand the press is critical to accountability in governance.
Look at the University of Guelph for an example. The Ontarion celebrated 50 years of publishing in 2001 and is still one of the few completely autonomous student newspapers in Canada, and operates as a non-profit.
The Ontarion is special because it serves a campus with no journalism program.
A more typical example of a student publication is The Dialog at George Brown College in Toronto. The Dialog is owned and operated by the Student Association but has editorial independence.
One of the most successful student publications in Canada is The Varsity, based at the University of Toronto since 1880.
The paper is published by Varsity Publications, a not-for-profit corporation, and is primarily financed by advertisement revenues with subsidies from a student levy.
There are different ways for student newspapers to operate, however, they all have the same goal: to publish, without influence from student government, the newsworthy stories of the day.
The University of Guelph-Humber never had an independent student publication until The Avro Post, despite having a large percentage of its students enrolled in media studies.
Humber College has the Et Cetera and Humber News, and although they aren’t strictly independent, they have not been shy in the past about holding IGNITE to account.
However, when The Avro Post was getting let go from IGNITE’s financial and legitimizing support, we were told by IGNITE’s executive director that it feels as though it plays the role of a campus publication.
You do not.
We at the Post have noticed a ramping up in publishing from IGNITE as well as from the Guelph-Humber “community news” portal, but do not be fooled, they do not take the role of a campus publication.
If they did, then they would have investigated themselves and found themselves to be desperately inadequate at transparency and accountability.
It would be like U.S. President Donald Trump running his own news agency, only publishing positive stories about himself.
We need accountability, transparency and answers to questions.
That’s what we do. The Avro Post is working to be a pillar of accountability and force to be reckoned with.
IGNITE executives, despite it being in their job description to do so, has failed on 14 occasions to answer critical questions from The Avro Post over finances, platform initiatives and more.
But, IGNITE, if you believe you are a campus publication, then act like one and hold yourself accountable by writing the truth.
You can start by telling us what happened to the other $192,746.11 that was not used by IGNITE for the rebrand, as of Oct. 19, 2016.
Image of IGNITE from The Avro Post.