It’s hard to believe that a full year has gone by since Pat and I were elected co-editors of Arthur for volume 49. That night, March 27, 2014, I was warned that the year would go by way too fast and sure enough, like the blink of an eye, here I am writing my last editorial for volume 49.
Next week this space belongs to Arthur’s incoming editorial tandem, Zara Syed and Yumna Leghari, who will hold the post for this paper’s historic 50th volume. Having had the pleasure of getting to know these two exceptional women over the past few years, I have the utmost confidence that they will serve both this paper and the Trent community with integrity, responsibility, and distinction.
With regards to the current volume, which is now quickly drawing to a close, I am incredibly proud of the way it all turned out. For the past eight months Pat and I have had the immense luxury of having a hard-working team of reporters and production staff who all consistently went well beyond their job descriptions to contribute to each issue. It is no secret that any media production is only as good as its staff, and ours has been beyond compare.
I also want to personally thank every student and community member who contributed to the paper this year through submissions, commentary, or even just by picking up an issue and reading it. After all, the editors are just the curators of the paper, Arthur will always belong to its staff collective and to its community.
For our part, Pat and I worked hard to try to make volume 49 as informative, diverse, and representative as possible. Although it’s true that a publication will always fall short of covering absolutely everything, I think that in many ways we were successful in these areas.
Now, with all this out of the way (I swear I didn’t mean for it to read like an Oscar speech) I want to reflect a bit on role of Arthur Newspaper within the Trent and Peterborough communities, especially in advance of the 50th volume milestone.
Arthur, like any worthwhile community paper, has always been intimately connected and reflective of the constituencies it serves. Much like Trent University itself, which grew out of the necessity for higher education in a thriving mid-century industrial city, so too did Arthur grow out of another basic necessity: the necessity for a space of information, investigation, and public comment within a close-knit community of citizens.
Nearly 50 years later, this necessity remains unchanged as the citizens of Trent and Peterborough still need to be informed and inform each other about the goings-on both in their community and outside.
Writing in the very first editorial space in Volume 1, Issue 1, Arthur’s founding editors (P.R. Lerprenier, Graham Weeks, and company) laid out a simple mandate for the paper, saying: Arthur exists “to provide reporting and comment on [university events] and to act as an organ of communication for individuals and organizations.” These were the words that I quoted in my inaugural editorial eight months ago and this was the mandate that grounded Pat and I through the many interesting events of this past year.
In my mind, Arthur is first and foremost a community newspaper and should be primarily concerned with covering the politics, events, and affairs of its communities. While there is certainly room for all forms and media within its pages I believe that Arthur does itself (and its communities) a disservice when it pretends to be anything else.
This is especially true in the Internet age, as people become less and less engaged in their specific geographical communities. The politics, policies, and administrative affairs of Trent University have never been issues the Peterborough Examiner is particularly concerned with covering and websites like The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and Rabble, certainly aren’t pressed to hold Trent’s University’s political leaders to account. Because of this, but certainly not only because of this, Arthur will always have a role to play informing the public discourse of this university and the wider community.
This year Arthur broke a number of important campus news stories that would otherwise have remained unturned and undetected. Furthermore, Arthur gave thoughtful comment, through editorials and op-eds, on matters of university, TCSA, and broader public policy.
Most importantly, however, this paper gave the diverse individuals and groups of this community a platform through which they could share their ideas, perspectives, and experiences with the broader public, a platform that they might not otherwise have.
News reporting, informed commentary, and community engagement. This, in a nutshell, is what makes community newspapers like Arthur invaluable to their constituencies and this is what community members should expect from Arthur each and every volume.
Next week, after Pat, Zara, Yumna, and I put the finishing touches on issue 24, I will officially be saying goodbye to the university, the city, and the newspaper that have been fundamental parts of my identity for the past five years.
This summer I will be doing some globe-trotting before moving on to begin the second phase of my higher education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. Undoubtedly it will be a profoundly different experience than the one I’ve had here at Trent and I am both excited and petrified to begin that journey.
However, in many ways I have come to understand my experience at Arthur as being representative of my transformative experience here at Trent. The diversity of people, ideas, and beliefs, as well as the many challenges I’ve encountered at this organization, have fundamentally changed not only who I am as a person, but who I want to be.
And so I wish the best of luck to Zara, Yumna, and everyone who will be involved with the paper next year. No matter what happens I will always consider myself apart of the Trent community, the Peterborough community, and the Arthur community. And no matter where I am I’ll be reading every page.