The Gazette’s office is full of artefacts: polaroids of former editors, posters from old University Students’ Council elections and shelves stacked with bound editions of past volumes. Whether it’s the rotting leftover Thai food in the fridge or the mysterious stain on the couch in the back room — there is nothing you will find in the office older than Ian Greaves.
Greaves, the Gazette’s composing manager, is finally retiring after 38 and a half years. He’s seen the paper go from typewriters to computers, a four-times-a-week print schedule to an award-winning digital-only publication, the Student Choice Initiative to a global pandemic and everything in between; the history of Greaves is the history of the Gazette.
“When I came to the Gazette, the paper was being written on manual typewriters,” says Greaves. “It was blue pencils, literal cut and paste — every desk had a [pair of] scissors and a jar of rubber cement.”
He started by pasting up type, became the manager of unigraphics and then took on the composing room and management of the advertising office.
While his formal role was known as the manager of advertising and composing, Greaves has more often been used as a fountain of institutional knowledge. Whether it’s recalling old anecdotes or pulling up constitution records to defend the Gazette’s editorial autonomy, Greaves has been the rock of a student newspaper navigating a changing media landscape for almost 40 years.
“I think I gave a bit of continuity and some stability,” says Greaves. “In the end, I was kind of a reassuring presence. Like a familiar building that you pass by every day on the walk to work.”
To truly know Greaves, to understand the dark and twisted mind of a man who was willing to work at a student newspaper for nearly four decades, one needs to go back to his origin story.
Greaves started out at the Gazette as a young man. He had spent time in the armed forces at the Royal Military College, worked at the London Free Press and then the Toronto Sun, before a “chain of coincidences and flukes” brought him to the Gazette in December 1983.
“My self-confidence had taken a bit of a beating and I was looking to make a success of it,” says Greaves. “That initially was a big part of it: I was bound and determined that I was not going to do anything but succeed at the Gazette.”
In his first years at the Gazette, Greaves had already witnessed major innovations at the paper: the switch from manual to electric typewriters and the introduction of the office’s first photocopier. After seeing an Apple Macintosh at a trade show in the mid-1980s, he was determined to bring computers into the office. This led to one of his most significant accomplishments at the Gazette: persuading the USC to give the paper capital money for computers in the late '80s.
But, what stands out to Greaves most after all this time is the sense of community and belonging he found at the paper.
“I will miss the people I worked with most,” says Greaves. “Working with this never-changing cohort of students who are always the same age allowed one to forget that one, in fact, was getting older.”
As for his retirement, Greaves is looking forward to spending time with his wife and two daughters. He’s not sure about the details – he’s never been much of a planner – but he hopes to make up for all the vacations he didn’t take while working at the Gazette.
“I want to see the Gazette flourish,” says Greaves. “I want to see people come into the Gazette and give it the devotion I’ve seen other people give to it in the past — without, you know, destroying their academic careers or whatever.”