The National Canadian University Press (CUP) conference in Montreal was an opportunity for eager university students to mingle, but face-to-face socializing took a back burner to social media.
The 73rd annual CUP conference took place Jan. 12-16 in Montreal. Editorial staff from The Runner, Kwantlen’s independent newspaper, attended the conference along with approximately 300 student journalists, editors and designers from around the country.
Twitter not only was valuable addition to the conference, but a tool for 300 students to communicate instantaneously, showing the prominent voice Twitter has in the world of new media.
“It was cool to see what other people were thinking about specific things. In particular, there were a lot of people tweeting during a few of the keynote presentations, which kind of lightened the load on a couple of fairly snore-heavy speeches,” said Brad Michelson, the culture editor at UVic’s newspaper, The Martlet.
“Then again, it was cool to see what people’s plans were and to hear about restaurants, bars in town. It was just a cool social tool.”
The convenience of being able to speak to the person next to you, while keeping up with rest of the conference updates through Twitter, enhanced the Nash (a short form of “national”) experience and emphasized the importance of journalists receiving and using information from multiple sources.
“Aside from a tool for research, Twitter is also really useful for promoting one’s publication and work. Social media has been a blessing and a curse for media as a whole, but I prefer to think that it’s helping develop new media and evolving how media works,” said Michelson.
At each keynote, seminar and social event, iPhones and Blackberries were put to use while students documented each of the highs and lows.
“Twitter, in particular, allowed people to interact socially during times where they normally wouldn’t be, like speeches, and seminars. People could make commentaries, discuss opinions and share their general thoughts and impressions. I really enjoyed that kind of sub-culture, part of the conference,” said Michelson.
Twitter at Nash became the easiest way to find fellow students with similar interests.
Andrew Bates tweeted: “I’ve been getting follows and wondering ‘what, I wasn’t following these people already?’ This is almost entirely because of #nash73.”
“Great to meet (now connected) to so many smart journos. Thanks for your time. Loved meeting you all,” tweeted Wilf Dinnick.
Students continually refreshed the #nash73 feed in order to review a constant stream of updates on everything from seminars to critiques of the catering to hangover complaints.
“It was pretty entertaining to read through the #nash73 hash-tag throughout the conference. Everything from commentary on presentations or keynotes to seeing what other conference people were up to. It was definitely an source of entertainment that actually enhanced my experience there,” said Michelson.
“Last night’s drunken tweets are the best breakfast reading ever #nash73,” tweeted Sarah Petz.
Tweets sent throughout the four days became a significant part of the conference experience, even allowing for some competitive (and comical) tension between publications.
Colin Sharpe tweeted, “The day I remove the #nash73 column from TweetDeck will be a very sad one.”
A group of Kwantlen students are preparing to launch the largest student publication in Canada. By the end of January, Kwantlen campuses will bear the fruits of their labour, a free newsmagazine titled The Runner.
According to advertising manager Mat Huff, The Runner will be a general interest publication covering the news, views, and opinions of the Kwantlen community.
Funded, owned, and operated by students, The Runner will publish less frequently than a normal newspaper, but will be heftier than most, hence the term newsmagazine.
Huff and The Runnerâ€™s growing staff are actively seeking students who are interested in writing, photography, editing, illustration, design and sales to â€œget in on the ground floorâ€ and join their team in putting out the inaugural issue.
All contributors to The Runner are paid, and students can also sell ads at a 30-per-cent commission. Any level of commitment is welcome, and elected editors will be paid to work at least 20 hours per week.
Start-up funding for the newsmagazine flows from an annual $6 fee paid by all Kwantlen students, but just in case there are any objections, Huff assures that â€œthere is an opt-out available.â€
According to a pamphlet about The Runner scattered around Kwantlenâ€™s campuses, finances and publishing are handled by Polytechnic Ink, a â€œnon-profit student publishing society.â€
Billed as â€œpart of a complete university,â€ The Runner will be a member of the Canadian University Press, a national cooperative of student newspapers that also operates a news wire connecting all of its member papers.
Huff and The Runnerâ€™s staff will be holding information sessions starting next semester, but for more information they can currently be reached at 778-565-3801 or by email.
The release of Kwantlen’s first student-run newspaper has been delayed after DJ Lam, who first dreamed up the idea, was injured and left paralyzed from the neck down over the summer. After hiring an assistant and working hard since then, Lam now anticipates the first issue of the paper will be published January 2009. Â
Students having been paying for the student newspapers, at the rate of 75 cents per credit, per semester, since September.
Lam has spent the months since his injury, “crunching through numbers, putting together plans, getting a lease signed to get office space, trying to space on campus at first, and trying to put this together the best I could.
“Some of it, to be honest, would have been done a little bit sooner, but I did break my neck and I’m a quadriplegic now, so I’m half paralyzed.Â
“A lot of the work now involves just finishing up the work that we started in the summer.”
A society has been created, called Polytechnic Ink, and while a name for the paper is still being considered, the same name may be on the table.
“Built into the rules of the society, are that there have to be nine contributors, no matter what,” said Lam. “Those nine contributors are generally people that have contributed three or more stories, photos or any kind of content, within the last calendar year. In this case that will obviously be waived because everyone will be new. But amongst those contributors, they will elect amongst themselves, the first set of editors.”
Lam confirmed that staff members on the paper will be paid a salary. Contributors who have work featured on the front page, or provide the top news piece, or graphics used for the head of a section, will also receive compensation.
The new advertising director, Matt Huff, is on campuses raising awareness and talking to students. He will be recruiting the first group of contributors and, Lam said, right now is the best time to get on board.
If you can’t find Huff on your campus and want to get involved, you can contact him at by email.
The society has leased office space near, but not on, the Surrey campus. Though on-campus space was desired, none could be found. The off-campus space does have its advantages, Lam said, such as the ability to run production late into the night after campus hours. For students, this is important as production work has to fit around around class schedules.Â
Other major details have been worked out. Lam has confirmed that the publication will begin as a bi-weekly. he hopes it will eventually become a weekly, as long as “the quality can be maintained and we can put out a paper that is nice and fat, enjoyable to read and has content that makes it worth publishing.
“Quality over quantity is what its going to be at first.”
There are many advantages for students who get involved, said Lam, such as learning how to write, having an opportunity to express themselves, getting involved with the student issues, learning to edit and produce a paper, and even things like the opportunity to sell advertising, for which students will receive a commission.Â
“We want everyone to have a chance to get involved and so we need to put the message out there and say, ‘Come, see, come play a part in your campus community and learn how to edit, write, do graphic design, be published, do photography, do all those wonderful things.’
Lam looks forward to giving students, “something that’s theirs, written by their peers, and produced and photographed by their peers, that has to do with information that’s valuable to them, in their hands.”
Students will be given, as promised, an opportunity to opt-out of the newspaper fee they are currently paying to the KSA.Â
“But come January, I can guarantee people that this is something that they won’t want to opt-out of. At the end of the day, for the average student it will come out to around $6.25 per student, or damn close to it, and really, if it helps them connect in a way, or helps them realize the idea that they can have campus community and this is a tool to do it, then it’s probably better than some of the other fees they paid for other things this semester.”
(Editor’s note: The Kwantlen Chronicle, while it is produced by students, is not a student-run newspaper. The Chronicle is produced by second-year journalism students as part of their coursework. It is an independent online and print newspaper, and not connected with the university administration or any other body on campus.)