November 01, 2012

Student union to strategically review The Gazette at Western

They're investigating the newspaper! It's like Britain!! Ahh! (Photo by Ritchie Sham/The Gazette)
The Gazette, the student newspaper at the University of Western Ontario (or Western University, or whatever the hell they're calling themselves these days) will be undergoing a "strategic review" conducted by the University Students' Council, Western's student union.

From The Gazette's story:
For once, the Gazette will not be the one reviewing the University Students’ Council. Last Wednesday, council voted to undertake a strategic review of the paper. According to the USC standards, the Gazette is long overdue for an assessment.

“We like to review all our operations to ensure that they meet certain standards for our organization,” Jeremy Santucci, vice-president communications for the USC, explained. “The Gazette hasn’t been looked at in five years or so, so we want to look at the operational structure and ensure that it’s operating as a tight ship.”

The review will look at the organization and operation of the Gazette, which is Canada’s only daily student newspaper and is paid for by a student fee of $15.39 per student, as well as by advertising revenue.

“It will be focusing on the overall organizational structure of the Gazette to ensure it’s […] operating like a modern newspaper should be,” Santucci said. “It will be more in-depth because it will be more on the operational side, but the inherent implications will be financial.”

More after the jump:

According to Santucci, the review will be conducted by a committee chosen by himself, and the editor-in-chief of the Gazette, Gloria Dickie. If the two cannot agree on members, the decision will go to council.

“The idea is that the committee would be composed of experts who are not affiliated with the USC,” Santucci said. “For example, someone from the [faculty of information and media studies] with an expert in this field, or somebody who is a Gazette alumni can provide expertise and advice in structure and operation of a daily student newspaper.”

Dickie said she was open to the idea of a review, and agreed the time had come to take a look at the paper’s operations

“Overall, I think doing a strategic review is probably a good thing for the paper, since we’re losing money, as is most print media,” Dickie said. “If there are areas where we can in fact cut money, […] obviously we’re open to that.”

“I think the concerns of the USC will mirror those facing print media overall,” she continued.

The motion received overwhelming support from council, passing unanimously. Nicole Cheese, president of the Arts and Humanities Student Council, echoed the sentiment the Gazette was overdue for a review.

“Any operation under the USC has to go under review yearly or every two years just because students do have a stake in them,” Cheese said. “Students pay for the Gazette, so we’re just making sure that everything is operating efficiently.”

However, Pat Whelan, student senator-at-large, said the motion for the review did not offer enough details.

“I think any review needs to have some sort of process and deadline included in it,” Whelan said. “The motion talked about the composition of the committee, but not necessarily when they would be presenting back.” He did, however, agree to the need for a review of the paper.

Santucci said he hopes to have a committee together in time for a presentation to council for next semester.

“I just think it’s a great opportunity for us to look at this, and be a part of the betterment of one of our operations.”
The Gazette is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to campus papers in Canada. With four issues a week, it's the only paper that publishes more than twice-a-week (The McGill Daily and The Ubyssey are the only twice-weekly papers left, with The Gateway and The Varsity moving to weekly recently.)

It's also the only very large paper left that is not fully autonomous from the student union, as demonstrated by this strategic review.

It will certainly be interesting to see if anything comes of this review, but everything seems to suggest that the student union and The Gazette are on fairly good terms.

1 comment:

  1. Just want to provide some clarification. I work at the Gazette, and while we receive a big chunk of our funding from the USC, it is written into their bylaws that we have editorial autonomy. They publish the Gazette (and thus have the right to review our finances, as they do every few years), but have no say over content whatsoever.