A critique of The McGill Daily

A critique of The McGill Daily
Two former columnists offer their advice

1. The McGill Daily claims it is a “non-hierarchical collective organization” which has a duty to “depict and analyze power relations accurately in its coverage.”

2. Despite its claims, The Daily is not entirely non-hierarchical, and The Daily staff has failed to adequately analyze power relations present within the paper.

3. There is a non-hierarchical relation amongst the editors at The Daily as they make decisions through consensus with equal voting power. This is something most other papers haven’t accomplished, or even bothered to pursue.

4. However, The Daily is made up of more than just nineteen editors as each issue includes contributions from numerous writers, columnists, photographers, and illustrators.

5. Despite this, the relationship between contributors and editors is a hierarchical one that favours the editors.

6. This hierarchy manifests itself in numerous ways. In practice, the editors determine the cover, illustrations, and stories for each issue amongst themselves, though contributors are free to participate. Additionally, in relations with writers, the editors have the power to overrule whatever they wish, regardless of the desires of the writer. Though editors are usually reasonable, they ultimately hold the power not to be.

7. Subsequently, the issues that are described in point six become even more damaging when one examines the editorial team. The editors have usually been extremely tight-knit, which certainly makes sense, but which makes it very difficult to overrule the recommendation of your primary editor: when a dispute arises, your primary editor merely asks other editors for their opinion on the matter (such as the Coordinating editor), and then returns with a verdict. Thus far, in our experience, this has always meant that the primary editor has made their changes with little or no consultation on the part of the other editors who solidified this decision.

8. This process leads to articles being misinterpreted by The Daily community. For example, an article titled “Anti-intellectualism amongst the political right” (Commentary, October 31, 2011) was written with a quotation at the beginning, which was referred to multiple times in the article. When the article was put into print, the quotation was mysteriously removed, while the article was otherwise unaltered, ruining the entire piece. With greater dialogue, these errors could be avoided.

9. In the 2012-2013 academic year, The Daily will face a referendum which determines if it will continue to exist or not. We believe that The Daily will pass this referendum as it is undoubtedly the best newspaper on campus.

10. Regardless, this does not mean that the paper cannot be improved. And more importantly, the fact that The Daily has existed for over 100 years with an impressive history should not be used as the sole justification for its continued existence. Relying upon past accomplishments to justify presence in the present is a conservative tactic, and as a paper which prides itself on progressive ideas, The Daily must avoid it.

11. So, as writers primarily concerned with the Commentary section of the paper, we recommend the following changes be made to enrich the quality of the paper as a whole.

a. Ensure that The Daily becomes a more open and welcoming paper which the student body can really claim as its own. This can be done by working to create a team-like atmosphere which extends beyond the editors, so that Commentary writers are not just people who send in an article every two weeks, but rather feel like they are a part of the paper. This can imply mutual editorial draftings, Commentary meetings, and greater inclusivity in terms of determining section content, such as taking suggestions on what topics can/should be addressed weekly.

b. Strive for diversity in the issues tackled and taken up. That is, continue to challenge political structures of dominance in McGill society and society at large, but refrain from appealing to and maintaining white, privileged, and elitist ways of thought.

c. Push towards broadening the Commentary section by addressing issues that deal with people on the political and social margins of society and go beyond surface-based structures of oppression that are verbatim to white “leftist” issues commonly found in The Daily. An example that The Daily missed this year was an analysis of how the Montreal protests have privileged white protesters who have not had to deal with or experience racial oppression on a reoccurring basis at the hands of the Montreal police or the McGill administration.

12. In order to move into the next 100 years of its existence, The Daily must uphold all that it believes it strives to stand for. It needs to prevent itself from becoming a site of alienation and exclusivity, stagnant where it was once progressive. And so, in analyzing inequalities and hierarchies in the world, The Daily must turn its scope on itself, as the inequalities within the paper, unlike many of the inequalities in the world, are something Daily members can easily and readily fix.