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

I remember a conversation I had with a dean once in which I asked why McGill doesn’t offer journalism as part of its curriculum. “We don’t teach ‘how-to’ courses here,” he said. Besides being pompous, he didn’t make much sense. Is that why there is no fine arts department? I sure hope there are “how-to” courses in something complex, like neurosurgery. Can you picture a prof standing next to a student with a hacksaw over a cadaver saying, “What do you think Derrida would have to say about methods of accessing the brain?” Well it is McGill, after all.

One thing I learned during my time at McGill is that not much the administration says or does makes sense – which is why I was so relieved to find an independent outlet within the McGill community to exercise my journalistic curiosities and, heck, even teach me a thing or two.

The editors use the phrase “The McGill Daily School of Journalism” to describe an annual spate of lectures and workshops offered to members of the Daily Publications Society (that’s any student at McGill), but it also refers to the paper itself. Without a structured, academic forum to learn about the importance and possibilities of journalism, the student body turns to its newspapers to foster debate, offer perspective, and inform opinion.

Every hand that works to produce an issue of The Daily – editors, designers, cartoonists, writers, and those they interview – invests in the promotion of community dialogue and profits from the experience of its creation. Detractors often question the relevance of an independent news source paid for by the student body. They see a campus divided into Trib readers and Daily readers, and form stereotypes accordingly. I assure you though, McGill needs The Daily every bit as much as The Daily needs its contributors and your $6 a semester.

Besides offering an opposing voice to an otherwise one-sided discourse, The Daily provides an exceptional training ground for a profession in dire need of quality journalists. Many alumnni have gone on to notable careers or prestigious journalism schools with only The Daily on their resumes. Their rallying cry of “a voice for the voiceless” strikes at the heart of journalism’s purpose and is the seed of journalistic integrity.

One dollar is hardly a price to put on The Daily’s invaluable service. Its absence would be an unpatchable hole in the fabric of McGill.

Joseph Watts was Daily Coordinating Culture editor, 2004-2006, and a Daily columnist, 2007-2009.

Read more alumni letters here.