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From Newsstands to Archives

The histories of The McGill Daily and Le Délit are rich. These newspapers have served the McGill community since long before any of us were students and will continue to foster the exchange of information and ideas long after we graduate.

The McGill Daily was founded in 1911 as a daily sports rag. It is the oldest student-run newspaper on campus and one of the oldest in Canada. Now publishing “weekly” instead of “daily,” we have expanded far beyond the bounds of sports to cover breaking news, publish important commentaries, celebrate arts and culture, and explore the latest developments in science and technology. We have also adopted an anti-oppression mandate and have committed to “depict[ing] and analyz[ing] power relations as accurately as possible” in our coverage. This mandate has guided our efforts to demand affordable food options on campus, to condemn violence against Indigenous women, to protest the Quebec government’s discriminatory legislation, and to highlight stories and voices neglected by mainstream media.

From the outset, Le Délit was intended to represent the voices of francophone students on campus, who until then had not had their own dedicated newspaper. Le Délit stands out for its investigative journalism on a wide range of campus issues. A recent investigation into video games allowed Le Délit to reveal the extent of the phenomenon with testimonials from an expert, an internationally successful game designer, and a McGill student. In the news section, our ongoing feature on the Mohawk Mothers keeps us abreast of the latest developments in the excavation of the unmarked graves of children believed to have been victims of MK-Ultra’s experiments at McGill. In parallel, Le Délit also had the opportunity to interview one of the few survivors of these experiments. The rotating section of the newspaper, which is bound to be renewed, also allows us to take a different look at current events. This year, the Au Féminin section tackles political and social issues from a feminist angle. Topics include leadership and entrepreneurship, health, sexuality, activism, intersectionality, and philosophy.

The world moves quickly, and just as items of clothing can fall out of fashion as quickly as they come into fashion, it doesn’t take long for breaking news to become old news. But the unclaimed copies of the Daily and Le Délit that make their way to recycling bins each week are much more than “old news.” Each article, photograph, and illustration that we publish becomes part of the respective paper’s archives. These archives consist of several dozen large, leather-bound volumes stored in our offices as well as the print and digital collections of the McGill Library. Interested researchers can also access every issue of the Daily and Le Délit published before 2001 on the Internet Archive and every issue published since 2009 on the Issuu pages of the Daily and Le Délit. The digitization of more than 9,000 issues published between 1911 and 2001 was made possible thanks to the tireless efforts of the McGill Library digitization team.

As editors of the Daily and Le Délit, we frequently find ourselves dipping into the archives of our papers. It is crucial to do so in order to recall the successes or failures of past student movements, to track changes in the policies of the McGill administration and our student government, and to reflect on important events that have shaped our student body and continue to do so. In writing our most recent editorial, on SSMU’s Policy Against Genocide in Palestine, for instance, the Daily cited the success of student protestors in convincing the McGill administration to divest from its holdings in apartheid South Africa in 1985. Daily coverage from that same year provided important evidence of the student resistance – and, we hope, encouragement for current students fighting for McGill to divest.

During last year’s referendum on the renewal of fees charged by the Daily Publications Society to McGill students, an editorial by Le Délit quoted a letter entitled “French, with tears” signed by “an Irate Mother,” which asserted that the weekly French-language edition was “foolishness,” an “outrageous action” that would “destroy” the university and “undermine Canadian unity.” Despite objections, 46 years later, Le Délit has proved its importance as the main source of French-language news on campus.

How to choose our words wisely, and whether they will reach the targeted audience, are questions that are on the minds of every aspiring journalist at the Daily and Le Délit. By varying points of view from more neutral news reports to opinion pieces, we can cast a wider net while still offering a space for people to express themselves within our pages. Despite differences in the way we cover certain events, our two newspapers share a responsibility to portray the challenging realities of students and others on campus. Careful attention to facts and details becomes necessary if we are to translate and communicate these stories. Our newspapers must continue, in that sense, to open their doors to people who want to experience alternative schools of journalism that have no equal at McGill.

Indeed, although McGill offers no journalism program, the Daily and Le Délit have provided invaluable training to aspiring journalists for decades. Editors from both newspapers have gone on to work for such renowned publications as CBC/Radio-Canada, the Montreal Gazette, the National Post, Slate, La Presse, Le Journal de Montréal, Le Droit, and TF1. As we honour the work of those who came before us, we look forward to welcoming the next generation of editors, contributors, and readers to the Daily and Le Délit. We thank you for your continued support, and we invite you to explore the vast archives of our papers and to aid us in our project of recording, remembering, and celebrating student life at McGill.