Student journalists create alternative website to report on strike updates

While the University of Ottawa narrowly missed a strike this past week, it’s important to remember that Ontario colleges, including Algonquin College, which hosts several joint programs with the U of O, have just finished their third consecutive week of faculty striking.

While this has caused many disturbances on campus, one of the most notable is the pause in production of the Algonquin Times, the college’s newspaper, which is run by students in the journalism program—one of the joint programs with the U of O.

The decision to shut down publication of the paper for the duration of the strike came from the Students’ Association.

“The Algonquin Times is a learning enterprise that involves faculty supervision. Every function within Algonquin College that involves faculty has been suspended during the strike, so we had to extend that to the Times,” said Victoria Ventura, president of the Algonquin College Students’ Association. “Our decision this time was made out of respect for faculty and the collective bargaining process.”

The stop in production is unprecedented, as the Algonquin Times continued to publish during the last faculty strike in 2006.

The paper operates differently than a typical campus newspaper, like the Fulcrum, as it serves as a learning vehicle for the journalism program.

Students are required to write stories for the bi-weekly publication in lieu of assignments as a part of their core journalism courses. A professor in the program, Joe Banks, overlooks the paper as editor-in-chief, making the final call on what gets published. Moreover, the Algonquin College Students’ Association (SA) owns the paper.

“The Times published without interruption through the 2006 strike so this was a surprise to me,” said  Banks. “However, the SA is the publisher and owner and has every right to do as it sees fit.”

Not only has production of the paper stopped, but the website has been taken down, along with Glue Magazine’s website, which is a bi-annual magazine produced by students in the journalism program.

“The fact that the websites have been taken down is incredibly frustrating because my past work is now unavailable,” said Wade Morris, a third-year student in the digital journalism program at U of O, which operates alongside Algonquin College.

The websites feature all of the articles that past students like Morris have written, serving as published pieces for their portfolios.

Although Banks said that he was not consulted prior to the decision, he believes that the decision is solely out of respect for his role as a faculty member in the production.

Journalism students were upset, saying that more than ever they are looking to provide  answers and updates about what is going on with the faculty strike.

“As a classroom, collectively, we all decided that no, this is our job. Our job is to inform people so that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” said Dennis St. Pierre, current editor of the Algonquin Times.

This is what prompted the students to create their own publication, the Algonquin Timeless, to provide updates concerning the strike.

“I’m delighted with their ingenuity and determination,” said Banks. “This speaks to the character of those students by pressing forward, and the ‘get ‘er done’ work ethic we promote in the program. I’m very proud of everyone involved in its production both online and offline.”

For more information about the strike, you can visit the Algonquin Timeless website or follow the Times on Twitter.
Disclaimer: Ellie Sabourin previously worked at the Algonquin Times.