You can see it in their eyes, red from squinting at screens for hours on end. You can hear it in their shouts lobbed across the room as sections collaborate, commiserate and help the work along. It’s imbued in first drafts, on crumpled mock-ups and atop stacks of newly-printed Tuesday editions.
The editors at the Gazette barely get paid. Volunteers get nothing at all. There is rarely academic credit associated with participation. Most reporters don't have name recognition around campus, so it isn't about glory.
They do it for something more.
Listen to the testimony of any Gazette staffer that's graced the pages of this paper since its inception in 1906, and you’ll know why twenty-some busy students pack themselves into a room of computers for six, seven, eight hours, trudging through stories, sources, transcriptions and edits. There’s something more. There’s something that makes the dark circles worth it. There’s a reason they come back week after week, year after year. They love what they do — and more importantly, they represent something meaningful; accountability, transparency and, ultimately, the truth.
The Margaret Mead quote emblazoned on countless community service and walkathon T-shirts goes like this: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” As cliche as it sounds, for the writers, editors and staff of the Gazette, there is truth behind these words.
See their discourse immortalized in print and online. Listen to the conversations their words inspire. Watch the way they flip through today’s issues with equal parts pride and fine-toothed scrutiny, and you’ll never doubt for a minute that a group of thoughtful, committed students can change their school and each other.
Contrary to what some critics might believe, we have a diverse group of people in this newsroom. All sides of the political spectrum are represented, and we come from every walk of life. But we are united by our passion for finding answers to the most difficult questions.
We provided the most comprehensive UWOFA strike coverage of any media outlet. We've shed light on questionable chiropractor tactics and presidential salary scandals and everything in between. When a Western University student tragically passes away, we tell their stories. We matter because big media outlets can't cover our campus the way we can.
To appreciate the amount of time and passion that our staff allocates to creating a publication that is entirely their own is to understand the importance of student journalism in this world.
We are far from perfect. We don’t always catch mistakes. Not each and every word we print shakes the foundations of the school, nor the bedrock of our city or province. This is a training ground for journalists and media types, and like any training ground, there are growing pains and imperfections. However, the very presence of the Gazette, and publications like it, speaks the loudest, clearest, most constant message the newsroom has to offer: thoughtful, committed students are here. Their ideas can thrive here. Their opinions matter here. Their dedication to the truth is celebrated here.
A tumultuous season awaits every student newspaper across this province. The Doug Ford government's tuition cuts have given students the ability to opt-out of ancillary fees, which means they can also opt out of keeping the Gazette afloat. We are unsure of what the future holds. And yet we move on, business as usual. Uncertainty will not prevent us from doing our jobs. It will not stop us from telling the stories that students need to hear.
Student journalism is alive here.
You can see it in every single one of the students who have made this place their home. They do it for something more. And so, in the coming months and years, as we rely more on student support than ever before, we simply ask that you remember this — the Gazette matters on this campus, because every one of the students at this university matter, and they deserve the truth. We will continue to strive to provide this truth to them, no matter the circumstances.
Just like we've done since 1906.