Features | Telling uncomfortable truths

McGill alumni discuss what the paper taught them and its place at McGill

Correction appended.

What first drew me was that The McGill Daily was all about taking chances. The paper was about digging for the hard facts and about daring to tell the uncomfortable truths. Some of those truths were unethical acts with only thin connections to the University. Others were happening right on campus. But the paper soon teaches anyone venturing into its offices that its ability to independently inform students and staff about issues affecting the campus is only part of its value.

The Daily teaches that authentic learning requires that one verify facts for oneself, even if this is with guidance, and that it is best if it’s at least partly by making something tangible, not just in private debate. Only when you can say something in plain and concise language and can teach it well to others do you know you really understand it. The Daily’s value as a counterweight on campus, I think, stems from this last part. Journalistic accounts are an antidote to the anaesthesia of musty academic and bureaucratic lingo.

I hope the newspaper is able to retain its full mission, regardless of its format. The campus and the whole city need it now as much as ever. Back when I was involved, I believed that few places outside the student press were willing to dig for the harder truths. Later media work only confirmed that ever-fewer parts of the commercial or state media will fund or publish such investigations; and that none now take to task, rather than fawn over, society’s elite. These once-standard media aims deserve The Daily as their champion, I think, if only because the University’s students still deserve unadulterated truths.

Brendan Weston was Senior News Editor at The Daily in 1986 and Co-Editor-in-Chief with Joe Heath in 1987-88. He has worked for the National Post, the Globe and Mail, CBC-TV, CTV, the Mirror, and Report on Business Magazine.

In the article “In their own words…,” Testimonials, March 22, 2010, it was stated that Brendan Weston was Daily Editor-in-Chief in 1987-88. In fact, he shared the position with Joe Heath. The Daily regrets the error.

Read more alumni letters here.


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