Commentary  The trial of the Tribune

From today until Thursday, March 11, undergraduates have the opportunity to decide how important it is to them to have a diverse and constructive student press. The McGill Tribune is separating from SSMU in a move that makes sense for both concerned parties: SSMU is currently legally and financially responsible for a newspaper that reports on its activities; the Tribune is beholden to the organization that it’s supposed to watch over.

Tribune editors have made it clear that this is a do-or-die situation. A yes vote on the referendum question ensures that the Tribune will continue to exist and will join The Daily and Le Délit as an independent student newspaper. A no vote would effectively kill the Tribune. The $3-fee levy is a bargain for a semester-long subscription to a weekly newspaper.

An active student press is an essential element of a democratically run university. Having multiple print-media outlets fosters a culture of plurality and dialogue while keeping tabs on its governing bodies. The Tribune has had some particularly strong investigative coverage of dramatic funding cuts to second-tier sports. This is information students need to know, and the Tribune’s thorough on-campus news demonstrates why McGill students are so fortunate to have three student newspapers. One paper can’t cover everything.

While The Daily and the Tribune often take different sides in our editorial content, we value the Tribune’s existence. The fact that the two papers must compete keeps both sharp. Print journalism across North America is in crisis and corporate, profit-centric models have shuttered newspapers in cities across the continent. Towns with populations greater than our University’s have no news coverage whatsoever. McGill students are lucky to have three student-run newspapers, a situation which should continue for years to come.

McGill has no journalism program, and for many, The Daily and the Tribune provide a vital service in teaching students the fundamental elements of the profession, in addition to enabling their active participation in student life.

The Daily wishes the Tribune good luck and we urge students to vote yes to keep it alive.