IIf it wasn’t made clear through the massive promotional campaign Brock has dedicated to the topic, let me break it to you: this year is the university’s 50th anniversary. Likewise, if you’ve seen any Brock Press front page and can perform rudimentary arithmetic, you’ll also know that it’s our 50th anniversary as well. In light of this, over the summer our External News editor, Stephen Chartrand, has been developing a kind of archive database, by going year by year, issue by issue and logging what topics were covered by the Press over the past five decades. This was initiated in the hopes that it would aid the current staff in referencing old coverage and find interesting parts of the paper’s past, as well as help us to better understand our own history.
Just this past week, we came across a box of old copies from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and discovered a particularly interesting issue from 1993, in which the student union and the editor at the time voiced their concerns about the newspaper. It was rather disappointing to discover that many of the issues with the press over 20 years ago are by and large the same today.
The content was essentially an argument between the paper’s editor and the student union president, highlighting a very vexing issue we deal with today. A vast majority of the feedback we receive for our coverage is directly from the subjects of the articles. With the exception of one or two cases over the past years that I’ve been EIC, the only people who cared to contact the paper were those with a stake in it. What we rarely get are “third party” students contacting us to inquire about more in-depth coverage or something alike. This leads to a rather unsettling conclusion that the only people who read the paper are doing so because they know they’re in it. While this isn’t the reality, it’s still a problem.
Another problem brought up in the ’93 issue was the imbalance between internal governance coverage and varsity sports and entertainment, which was excused due to the lack of writers interested in the former. This is also the case today, as our A&L and Sports sections commonly outweigh Internal News because there are so many more interested writers for those areas.
That’s not to mention that issues with Sports coverage on the front page are picked up off the racks twice as much as any other topic. As much as I might wish students were captivated by coverage of the school’s internal governance, all the data tells me otherwise.
What it comes down to is a lack of connection between the press and the students that pay for it. Although our door is always open, the truth is that we get little to no feedback from the students we’re attempting to serve effectively. In light of that, we will be making even more effort to reach out to the students in every way we can. Up until now we’ve left the onus on the students to write letters to the editor, visit us during office hours or even just contribute to the unclassifieds. This year we will be developing surveys to get a better idea of what students want to see in their paper. This year we will be actively promoting the fact that our editorial staff have open office hours, that our new website has a comment section, that we offer well-paying jobs for students. This year, we will try to be more clear than ever that we are here for you. However, without proper input and feedback, it’s entirely possible another two decades could go by before there’s any real change.
Below this column we have listed the contact for submitting letters to the editor, our website URL and our editors’ office hours. Should you like to inquire about coverage, contributing, available positions or anything else to do with the paper that fees pay for, all you have to do is say something.