Editorial: birthing Arthur, a labour of love

I stared at a grand plant with giant leaves cascading onto a linoleum floor for about 10 minutes before I began writing this. Each tiny stem hosted a promising green bud and fully developed, lush green leaves that shone in the sunny Peterborough afternoon glow. I pondered in what I now identify as a classic form of philosophical procrastination, “How wonderfully full of potential this tree is, and how amazing is it that it has already come so far.” I guess that’s how I feel about Arthur. I am overcome with too much sentiment, premature nostalgia, and a desire to see it bloom perpetually into the future.

I’ve been writing for Arthur for over four years, and have seen it pass through multiple editorships, each leadership bringing  disparate visions to the forefront. I did not foresee myself steering this ship, and of course, I could not have done it alone. My co-editor, Zara Syed, has stood by my side through it all. Together, we birthed 40 newspapers over the course of two years, and let me tell you, the labour wasn’t always easy. There were times we had to push and breathe extra carefully, but it was always worth it. The world has been a little weirder than usual lately (or maybe we’re just more aware of it now, who knows) and we’re all trying to navigate through rough, confusing and ever-changing waters.

Running the eternally branded “leftist rag” that is Arthur Newspaper through a Canadian Federal election, and a historical American election, was a great challenge. During a period of such political and social polarity, it has been even more important to ensure representation of all spectrums of the student and community voice.

Certainly, we have made mistakes, but our heart has always been in the right place. All I’ve wanted during my time as editor is sexy layout, objective coverage, and a sense of security amongst the Trent and Peterborough community that relevant news will be covered. I do not regret a single article or cover that has been published under our editorship. Every paper we created was created with care, focus and compassion.

We’ve spoken with editors over the past five years who have joked that they never had to go through the hardships we went through. Who knows how true that is. Arthur has received lawsuit threats in almost every year of its existence, people are always trying to defund us, and there was a successful coup of the board nine years ago, which was then overthrown by another successful coup. The point is, Arthur is relevant, and makes enough of a splash, for people to go to extreme lengths, whether it is inspired from love or hate.

When we first took on thisposition, we ran online through the summer of 2015, and held story meetings at the Silver Bean Cafe. Our first staff was comprised of Renzo Costa, Jordan Porter, Dane Shumak, and Ugyen Wangmo. Those first months really prepared us for what was to come; a responsibility to manifest a vision, and to guide writers and photographers in the right direction. At the same time, I realized that we would be learning equally as much from our staff. We were all in this together. I guess our circle diagram wasn’t bullshit after all. Fuck the pyramid, right? When I look at our very first Issue 0, I cry-laugh, but once I get over the initial cringe, I see past the errors, juvenile layout and inconsistent font to something more important; the content, vision, and intent. Don’t get me wrong, it’s crucial to have a properly formatted newspaper, and that comes with practice, but it’s more important to depict all facets of Trent and Peterborough. I think that we achieved this to the best of our abilities.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible staff that we have had the honour of working with over the span of our editorship, many of whom have moved on to work in film, fashion, etc, in Toronto, or in the case of your new co-editor, Dan Morrison, have returned from overseas to take over this ship along with staff writer and radio personality Josh Skinner. That’s the thing about being an Arthur writer; you never know what the future will bring.

What fascinates me the most about Arthur—and it’s probably due to my being a History major—is, well, the history of Arthur. This newspaper is 51 years old. Our editorship saw Arthur surpassing half a century of existence. The first thing we did when we got our editorship was geek out over the old stained issues of Arthur. It wasn’t was even called Arthur back then, and was simply a set of type-written pages stapled together. Stephen Stohn and friends started this rag, and enough people have cared about it to keep it going. I guess we’re like, relevant, and represent the student voice, or something. Do I sound like a broken record yet?

I leave this position with the optimism that Arthur will live on for another 50 years, at least. Trent University is young, and there are student newspapers far older than us. I would like to thank everyone over the past two years who have participated in the nebulous entity that is Arthur Newspaper; as much as we’re a newspaper, we are also a concept that exists outside of its physical self. I’m even thankful to those who tried to silence us. If it were not for them, I would never have realized my own principles, or how much I, and so many others, truly do believe in what Arthur Newspaper represents.

About Yumna Leghari 59 Articles
I am currently co-editor along with the fabulous Zara Syed. I'm a Peterborough hobbit, and often find myself writing too much poetry and struggling to be a proper adult. Just kidding, there is no such thing as too much poetry. I spent two years as a reporter before being lucky enough to become co-editor of Arthur. I love journalism of all sorts, but generally focus on music journalism and politics. As a History and English major, I tend to over-analyze everything. Luckily, the journalism world is the one place where that is accepted-one would hope. You can probably find me tucked away in a corner of Peterborough somewhere, scribbling in a notebook frantically over my fourth cup of coffee.