The public editor is responsible for providing constructive assessments of The Daily’s content and style on behalf of the newspaper’s readers. I am honoured but also frightened by this position – how can I represent you? I don’t even know you! I hope the paper’s readership will help me to better articulate your sentiments by communicating your feelings about the paper to me.
This year I have read the paper for the topics that stir my interest. At their best, Daily writers have published work that is well-researched and enlightening. At their worst, their work has been incoherent, and their journalistic discussions have collapsed into din.
We might say of this that we are true to ourselves as students – that we say what we feel we must, as often and for as long as we feel we must. We might say that we just say what we want to – loudly. The past months saw memorable articles published at an astonishing rate; some developed into discussions that spanned several issues – sexism at Frosh, IDS internships, and the Choose Life controversy all occupied the spotlight for some time. These three big topics make up a small fraction of The Daily’s content, but this year they have captivated us, perhaps because they show us what The Daily really is: students, real students, writing. The action is live and it is raw.
The Daily’s role at McGill and its service as a representative of student concerns will be a constant theme in this column, which I hope you will weigh in on throughout the year. The paper’s Statement of Principles (SoP), which is available at mcgilldaily.com/SoP, prescribes The Daily’s journalistic focus and is thus an important element of this discussion. “The staff of The Daily recognizes that all events and issues are inherently political, involving relations of social and economic power,” one section of the SoP reads. Though we may not agree on the nature of these power relations, we can agree that in writing our newspaper with an eye on them, we involve ourselves from afar in real events and issues. Thus involved, we almost always choose a side, and so in writing we commit a political act. This, as they say, is big.
In a letter that appeared on October 1, I responded to an article on Queer McGill’s then-upcoming queering operations (“Queering Montreal,” Commentary, September 24). I did not take issue with the ideology that motivated the action, but with the language that was used to justify it. In the same way, the newspaper’s style – its look and its language – deserves our attention as much as the stories and opinions published. Part of each column will be dedicated to stylistic comments and advice for Daily contributors.
Artist submissions, especially illustrations, have been numerous this year and the visual aspect of the paper has been frankly excellent. Still, we must scrutinize The Daily’s photographs, illustrations, and artwork in the same way as we do the written word. For now I would say that we do not need to shy away from drawing anything: a trio of obese, cigar-smoking Mafiosi gorging on poutine stuck with dollars and Quebec flags; a stone-faced army medic holding a stethoscope to an assault rifle; a man speaking into a microphone that is an acorn. If we can say it to ourselves aloud and not think our journalistic integrity is thereby damaged.
Hopefully The Daily will remind us later this year of the many other good things that could have been said about the paper up to this point – for now these are old news.
Mike Prebil is The Daily’s public editor. He’ll be writing every other week next semester. In the meantime, let him know how you feel: firstname.lastname@example.org.