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.