I remember the first article that I ever wrote for The Varsity. It was my first year of university and I had signed up for the Varsity News email list at UTSU’s Clubs Day. (You can sign up at anytime by emailing News Editor Dylan C. Robertson at email@example.com!) Volunteering for an assignment was one of the most intimidating things I’d ever done and I agonized over the 200-word news-in-brief piece that I submitted two days later.
I plugged away for a month, volunteering for the assignments that nobody else wanted. (A word of advice: taking the assignments that nobody else wants and doing a stellar job with them is the surest way to get brownie points from the editors!) And in October it all paid off when one of my news articles ran front page, above the fold. Loud and proud, my noble byline was on the front of a paper that distributes 20,000 copies across three-campuses. It was a pretty cool moment.
I’ve been a campus media junkie ever since. Here’s a few reasons why you should be too:
1. Involvement. Working as a student journalist, no matter what you’re researching, is a crash course in getting to know the community that you’re investigating. Curious about student politics? You won’t learn faster than being thrown into the middle of some scandal and trying to get a UTSU representative on the phone before your deadline. Interested in art? Interview the curator of your favorite art gallery on campus. No idea what you’re interested in? Investigate everything! And have something cool to put on your resume in the meantime.
2. Community. Student journalists are kind of cool. We like to laugh; we like to read; we like to talk about current events, politics, art and music; and, of course, we like to party as much as the next undergraduate. (Consider that it’s also our job to know about the coolest things going on around campus and the city before you do.) You meet an incredibly diverse group of young people once you get involved with campus media, who will almost definitely challenge you, and just might become some of your best friends.
3. Growth. In my completely unbiased opinion, working as a student journalist makes you brave. You have to be. You’re constantly throwing yourself into vulnerable situations by putting your work out there for the world to see; by calling up complete strangers in pursuit of a story; by restraining yourself from replying to a cruel anonymous commentator with a litany of curse words. Being a student journalist is a crash-course on learning to be comfortable with yourself.
Oh, and here’s the best part: getting involved is easy.*
*Due to space constrictions, this guide is mainly for wannabe writers! If you’re a photographer or an illustrator visit the publication’s website for more details on how to get involved!
There are countless publications on campus that you can write for, so I’ll break them down into categories for you! (And in case you’re too lazy to read all of this text, all of the important stuff is in bold!)
College newspapers often focus on covering their college’s events and goings-on, but you do not need to be a student of the college to contribute. These publications are generally smaller-circulation, and publish biweekly or monthly.
The Strand (Victoria College). To get involved, email the editor of whichever section you would like to be involved with and provide a writing sample and a brief description of interest.
News – Shiraz Noor (firstname.lastname@example.org); Opinions – Muna Mire (email@example.com); Features – Catriona Spaven-Donn (firstname.lastname@example.org); Arts & Culture – Leila Kent (email@example.com); Film & Music – Alex Griffith and Will Pettigrew (firstname.lastname@example.org); Stranded – Jake Howell and Brandon Martin-Gray (email@example.com)
The Woodsworth Howl (Woodsworth College). Daniel Mermenstein (firstname.lastname@example.org), the new Editor-in-Chief of The Howl, also recommends emailing the editor of the section you’re interested in writing for. He recommends proofreading your own work before sending it in, and always keeping your article idea pitches short and sweet.
News – Jon Foster (email@example.com); Comment – Gloria Mak (firstname.lastname@example.org); Lifestyles – Qi Chen (email@example.com); Arts – Harrison Dahme (firstname.lastname@example.org); Sports – Chris Granicolo (email@example.com)
The Mike (St. Michael’s College). One of the first papers at the University of Toronto to actually publish one of my articles! I’m afraid The Mike hasn’t gotten back to me with their new masthead, but they can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Window (New College). The paper took a bit of a hiatus a few years ago, but the New College publication is in the process of revamping and relaunching. Ryan Oh (email@example.com) has taken the reins of the publication, and is trying to fill a bunch of editorial positions. Right now he’s looking for an Associate Editor, a Distribution and Marketing Manager, two columnists, two photographers, a Layout Editor, and a webmaster and five to ten staff writers.
The Gargoyle (University College). The Gargoyle is different from other campus publications in that instead of assigning stories, most of the time it solicits submissions. Carla Mesa Guzzo (one of the Editor-in-Chiefs for the upcoming year) stresses that The Garg loves all questions, suggestions and submissions. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the email list, or to get in contact with any of the editors.) But, she says, the best thing of all is to drop by production night. They happen every other Thursday in the Gargoyle office (through the F door in the UC quad, downstairs to room F6).
The Salterrae (Trinity College). I’ve never actually seen a physical copy of this publication, although I have been assured that it does, in fact, exist. If you manage to track it (or its website) down, please do let me know!
Magazines are usually pretty hit and miss at U of T. They come out irregularly, and are usually driven by the work of one enterprising editor who spearheads the publication. But, with a good editor, the magazine can be really fun, and a little bit more creative than your average college newspaper.
Vive Magazine. A fashion magazine that throws some fun parties, keeps a blog, and prints a glossy and polished final product. You can contact email@example.com for general inquiries. To contribute, contact firstname.lastname@example.org (for the magazine) or email@example.com, with a statement of interest and a few samples of your writing.
The Newspaper. An independent weekly that publishes strictly with the money it gets from advertisers. During the year, the paper has editorial weekend at their offices in One Spadina Crescent. During the summer they can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Toike Oike. The Engineer’s official humor publication. The current EIC (Editor-in-Chief) is Andrew Jerabek, who can be reached at email@example.com. Sending an email to that address will add you to the mailing list which will send out all information concerning meeting/time dates and all other important information.
The Varsity. There are about a million and a half ways to get involved at The Varsity. (U of T’s official student newspaper.) You can start by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. But, the better bet is to either email the section editor of your choice (repeatedly, until you finally get a response), or to show up to the offices on the second floor of 21 Sussex and introduce yourself. (There is a general open house every term, and the section editors try to organize periodic training sessions throughout the year.) You only need to write six articles to be considered a Staff Writer, at which point you can vote in masthead elections, and you’ll get an invite to the paper’s legendary end-of-year party. The Varsity also has a functioning Board of Directors if you’re more interested in the business end of the newspaper biz, and The Varsity periodically hires copy-editors. (Email EIC Tom Cardoso at email@example.com for more information.)
News- Dylan C. Robertson (firstname.lastname@example.org); Arts- Ariel Lewis (email@example.com); Comment- Alex Ross (firstname.lastname@example.org); Features- Erene Stergiopoulos (email@example.com); Science- Bianca Lemus Lavarreda (firstname.lastname@example.org); Sports Murad Hemmadi (email@example.com).