Now more than ever, print journalism needs our support to stay alive. In an age of increasingly digitized media and skyrocketing production costs, it takes a great effort for print newspapers to keep their operations going. This is especially the case for student publications, which, unlike large for-profit newspapers, do not have the luxury of accessing subsidized funding or professional marketing consultants. Keeping student newspapers like The McGill Daily and Le Délit afloat would not be possible without our loyal readers, passionate contributors, hard-working administrative staff, and the financial support of our fellow students. In order to ensure that these efforts can continue, we ask that the McGill student body vote “YES” on our upcoming Winter 2024 referendum.
From February 19 to February 26, students at McGill’s downtown campus will have the opportunity to vote on a proposed fee increase for the Daily Publications Society (DPS). The DPS is an independent, student-run, non-profit organization that oversees the publication of both The McGill Daily and Le Délit. A successful referendum would see an increase of $1.50 per term for undergraduate students (i.e., SSMU members), from $6.00 for $7.50, and of $1.00 per term for graduate students (i.e., PGSS members), from $3.35 to $4.45.
The DPS has not had a fee increase since 2008, despite inflation in Canada rising by approximately 39.72 per cent since then. To put this figure into perspective, the $6.00 McGill students were paying in 2008 would actually be equivalent to $8.39 in 2023. By not receiving an increase in fees to account for this hike in inflation, editors from The McGill Daily and Le Délit have had to redouble their efforts in order to keep their papers afloat. Yet, relying solely on the extra labour of the students involved in these organizations is not sustainable long-term; a fee increase is vital to ensuring the future of these two student publications.
Print journalism is an integral aspect of maintaining a democratic, socially-aware campus culture. The McGill Daily has been part of McGill’s legacy for over half of the university’s existence, adorning its newsstands since 1911. As McGill does not have a journalism department, student-run papers like the Daily provide a rare opportunity for students to exercise their reporting and investigative writing skills. Many of our alumni have gone on to pursue successful jobs in journalism, working for established Canadian publications such as the CBC and the Toronto Star, while several contributors, such as Leonard Cohen and Irving Layton, have achieved thriving literary careers. Le Délit, McGill’s only French-language newspaper, has provided a space for francophone students to hone their writing and editing skills since 1977. It has received numerous awards in French-language student journalism, including le Prix du Devoir de la presse étudiante in 2016. The work of past and present generations of Daily and Délit contributors has culminated in an invaluable archive of student achievement, and it is imperative that we give future generations the chance to continue this work.
This proposed fee increase would come into effect at the start of the Fall 2024 semester, and the new fees would remain in place until Winter 2028. Its success would open many doors for student journalism at McGill, and would be instrumental in combating many challenges, such as those posed by Bill C-18. Also known as the Online News Act, Bill C-18 has resulted in companies such as Google and Meta refusing to display links to Canadian news on their platforms. The Daily wrote about the impact of this bill in our first editorial of the school year, and unfortunately, its effects on our online presence have taken their toll since then. Now more so than ever, our presence in print form is paramount for our continued work as a publication.
Print journalism keeps the legacy of our talented student body alive, and it is vital that we honour their achievements by securing the future of McGill’s student press. If you have ever contributed to, read, or simply admired the artwork in The McGill Daily, we ask that you vote “YES” during the SSMU and PGSS referendums taking place from February 19 to 26. The ballot will ask if you are willing to “cover rising operational costs and ensure the long-term survival of the DPS” with this fee increase of $1.50 (or $1.00 for graduate students). Be on the lookout for posters, flyers, and announcements advertising this referendum, and make sure to spread the word any way you can. Finally, show your support for other upcoming referendums supporting student-run media, such as that of McGill’s student radio station, CKUT.