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Concordia’s student media bickering again

At Concordia University, there’s been a rivalry between its student newspapers for more than 20 years now, since The Concordian was launched in 1984 as competition for The Link (both now have RSS feeds, by the way, for those who want alternative local news sources).

This week, The Concordian rekindled some of that rivalry by questioning The Link’s referendum question asking to have their fees applied to graduate students. Currently both papers are funded by fees from undergraduate students only.

The piece goes on in detail about how The Link (a paper I ran three years ago) receives twice as much money from students than The Concordian, for about as much output (one issue a week during the school year). Because of the extra money, The Link can afford new computers, salaries for its editors, better quality printing and a substantial budget surplus.

Let’s go into a bit of background to understand this situation a bit better.

The Link was created in 1980 as the result of a merger of two newspapers: The Georgian, which served Sir George Williams University, and the Loyola News, which served Loyola College. When those two institutions merged in 1974, it was decided that merging the two student newspapers was a logical step.

Efforts to create a second student newspaper at SGWU and Concordia emerged during the 60s and 70s, but none lasted more than a few years. In 1984 a group of renegade Link staffers broke off and formed The Concordian, which was supposed to have a more moderate mainstream editorial stance to balance The Link’s crazy leftism. (An ideological split that amazingly lasts to this day)

Both newspapers were funded in full by the student association, until in 1986 students decided that in order to ensure editorial independence they should get their funding directly from students through a tax on their tuition fees. Since then, both are independent organizations with their own boards of directors.

At the time, The Link was publishing twice a week and The Concordian once, so the fee was established at $0.13 per credit for The Link and $0.07 per credit to The Concordian. In the early 1990s, The Link successfully passed a referendum to increase it to $0.20, and in the late 1990s dropped from 40 issues a year to 30, or once a week. The Concordian got their fee levy increased from $0.07 to $0.10 a few years ago.

So all this to say that The Link publishes 30 issues a year and The Concordian 25, and The Link gets almost twice as much money ($0.19 per credit from all undergrads after yet another referendum to get engineering and business students to join in). The fee difference has always been a pain in the Concordian’s neck.

The criticisms brought up in the piece are for the most part justified. The Link enjoys an accumulated $250,000 surplus while The Concordian barely scrapes by. The old excuse that The Link was simply better has largely fallen by the wayside as the quality of both papers’ editorial content has become more equal.

But there is nothing sinister about The Link’s fee. They have it because they asked students for more money and students said yes. When The Concordian goes to students this fall to ask that their fee be brought in line (something The Link apparently doesn’t support), it’ll be up to those students to decide if their paper is worthy of the extra money.

The Link, which asked graduate students to join them a couple of years ago and lost a referendum on the subject, is certainly motivated more by money than membership in its desire to get fees from graduate students. I wanted membership extended to graduate students because there were some (notably in the journalism department’s graduate diploma program) who wanted to become members of the society. But they said no. To me, that was the end of it. Graduate students are disconnected from student life and don’t spend as much time on campus, so they decided the student paper thing wasn’t for them.

Now they’re trying again, and The Concordian isn’t happy about the idea of the divide between rich and poor getting larger. I can’t say I blame them for their emotional reaction, though they shouldn’t be blaming The Link for their troubles.

We’ll see what happens to both papers’ requests for more student fee money. Will students want to dig into their own pockets to settle the score?

10 thoughts on “Concordia’s student media bickering again

  1. Josh

    I thought that the ‘real’ (as in ‘stated’) reason for the split back in 1984 was that the people who started the Concordian were tired of the Link covering too much off-campus news, and that the Concordian’s mandate then was to limit itself to news, sports and entertainment that was directly Concordia-related.

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  2. Elliott

    Question: what makes you think The Link was “clearly motivated more by money than membership” when it went after graduate students a week ago? I’ve had nothing but grief since I wrote that opinion piece – please note it was an opinion piece and did not necessarily represent the editorial board’s views – with editors from the Link protesting they were only going after a higher-grade of potential editors and board members. It had nothing, but nothing to do with money, they keep saying. I just don’t believe it and I’m curious to know why you seem to think the same.

    (are your initials A.S. by any chance? I’ve been trying to figure out who this mysterious blogger is for a month now.)

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  3. Elliott

    May it be forever known from this point on: I do not hate The Link. Nor is The Concordian jealous. Nor was my opinion piece written in vengeful bitterness.

    I respect The Link’s journalism, well, I do this year- it was a different case last year when they printed libelous and frequently erroneous Hunter Thompson-esque articles in a bid to take down the CSU exec, and have often pointed to their lovely, clean layout as an example to other editors at The Concordian. Ask them… was I not The Link’s biggest fan on The Concordian’s editorial board?

    Dammit, I didn’t want that piece to become yet another cause of bitter division. I still hoped we would be on relatively good, if not then healthily competitive terms, though it’s looking like I’ve burned my bridges thoroughly. Sad, to say, I’m now a pariah in The Link camp. Still, I stand by my opinion. Sometimes enough is enough.

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  4. Fagstein Post author

    I can’t speak for today’s editors, only for the common perception when I was there a few years ago. But the fact that they’re trying again so soon after another failed referendum pretty well speaks for itself.

    If you’re a pariah at the Link camp, then that’s unfortunate. Student journalists should be able to take as much as they dish out, and this piece didn’t seem particularly mean-spirited. (Though I think you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone that financial jealousy wasn’t at least partially involved).

    As for my identity, I don’t keep it a secret. Click on the “About” link on the right to read all about me.

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  5. Chris

    The Concordian asked undergrads for an increase to their funding last year and I (and the majority of other students) voted against it. I felt bad doing so because I am totally in favour multiple news sources on campus but I genuinely didn’t feel that The Concordian deserved it. I didn’t think I should be paying more money per credit so I can read shitty CUP copy and so its writers can print half assed stories that pretty much just reiterate what was said in The Link. Sadly, based on the few times I’ve actually picked it up this year, The Concordian doesn’t seem to be much better than last year.

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  6. Ben

    Well Chris, you seem to have a pretty informed opinion about The Concordian since A) We ran a total of three CUP stories as opposed to what must be over 50 stories by our own writers. B)The Link and the Concordian’s sections have differed alot in terms of coverage this year. C)We hit the stands on the same day so I don’t see how we can “reiterate” what is said in the Link.

    Funding itself is the issue. The whole point is that if editors can start getting paid so they wouldn’t have to work part-time jobs but instead concentrate on the paper.

    Did you really pick up our paper this year? Or did you already make up your mind before reading it?

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  7. Pingback: Fagstein » When should business trump journalism?

  8. Tobi Elliott

    The Concordian won the vote. Unconfirmed reports say by more than 10 per cent. Fan-f***ingtastic. Now we can really see what rivalry’s like.

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  9. Tobi Elliott

    Correct that percentage. Sorry, I got a little excited. We won by about 5 per cent, or 850 to 760. Decent, considering we lost the vote by 10 per cent last March. Now the real work begins.

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