Editor's note: February issue

[box type=”info”] This editor’s note was published in the February 2015 issue. At the time of writing, we had not received the cheque for the first 50 per cent of our fall levy. However, when the magazine was at the printer, our treasurer John picked up the cheque and deposited it in our account. So we now have enough to print several more issues, although we still have not received our full levy.[/box]
By now you may have heard about our eloquently named “money troubles.” We’ve survived this year on the remains of the 2013-2014 levy; after the printing of this issue the bank will be empty.
Our problem arose primarily from the discovery of a 2001 document outlining how we should receive our levy. This document, which Alex Bryant found last school year, is substantially different from the way we have traditionally received our levy. The 2001 document was brought up at the last publishing board meeting of the 2013-2014 school year, and both sides agreed to look into changing it.
This year, the KSU has followed the 2001 agreement while we followed our constitution – as we have done for many years.
The result was that we did not receive the money students had already spent on us.
According to the 2001 agreement, we were to receive half of our fall levy before Sept. 20. This did not happen. In an email from Michaela Sam, she said “the first 50 per cent of the fall levy should have been released by the KSU directly without a vote of the Publishing Board, we were unclear about this fact as it had not been made clear to us by the Watch executive. This is an error on our part and we will release this sum as soon as possible.”
At the Jan. 26 council meeting, Sam’s report said that the Watch’s cheque for that initial 50 per cent has been written. We just received the cheque on Feb. 5.
Rachel has called another publishing board meeting to vote on whether we will receive the rest of our levy, as well as look at the possibility of an external committee to draft a new agreement so this doesn’t happen again. The vote passed with the quorum defined by the 2001 agreement.
But really, why does this matter?
Grace was asked by a family friend how important the levy really was. Do we really need to publish a print issue? Do we really need to pay our contributors? Does the Watch really matter at King’s when there are already the j-school publications?
We would like say yes to all of these.
The Watch matters to us – we wouldn’t have given up our honouraria this year if it didn’t. It is something special and separate from the journalism school. Our contributors are not only journalism students; they are also CSP, EMSP and HOST students. King’s people who only take courses at Dal. Students who spend hours in the library or in the gym. Rugby players, poetry weavers, photography junkies. We get to be the publication that brings all these people together.
King’s is more than just deficit – no matter how frequently that topic comes up in our articles and conversation. It’s more than just KSU rallies and meetings. It’s something special that comes together only when you have people from different parts of the school working together.
This is why we think it’s important that we actually pay our writers and photographers. You are the people who make the Watch what it is (no matter what design we decide to try out). The content is yours and it is unique. And it is undoubtedly worth something.
There is a trend in the writing world to avoid paying people for their work. The abundance of unpaid internships is staggering.  They offer you the opportunity to increase your portfolio and pad your resume, to get your byline on the internet. They seem to say that your work has value only to you.
We want to pay our contributors because your time and effort and words have value to everyone. We can’t pay you what your work is worth – not even close – but we can pay you enough to show you that your labour is appreciated by more than just your resume.
The same trend that is pushing our writers towards unpaid work is also pushing the media towards what some people call the death of print. The online world is more lucrative, faster breaking, more interactive – in short, the experience more readers want.
We think that Peter Preston, in an article for the Guardian, said it best: “We don’t know whether news on paper and news on screen are the same or subtly different.” We would like to believe that news on paper is subtly different. There is something special about holding your article in a newspaper. There is something unique about seeing your photo on the cover of a magazine. Somehow, in some way, having it in print is different.
Of course, we could be just kidding ourselves. Our print edition could be a useless extravagance. Our contributors could be just as happy as volunteers. The Watch could be irrelevant to life at King’s.
But we believe the things we do matter. Even if it is only for one person, our existence means something. And that is why our levy is so important to us. It’s not because we want to get paid. It’s not because we want to create waves with the KSU. It’s because we care about this magazine, and we think it is something worth fighting for.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

6 replies on “Editor's note: February issue”

Honest question: did any editor or publisher for the watch ever walk the 10 feet from their office door to the KSU office and try to talk to the KSU executive or did you just shit talk them on the internet and hope that worked out well? What makes king’s a great community is that people talk to each other face to face instead of running to student reporters they want to impress in Ontario. You share a hallway with the KSU why can’t you just resolve this like adults and talk to them instead of moaning and whining like self-important children?

A bit harsh, but I agree. They Watch can’t condemn the KSU for withholding the money if they never expended the effort to open up a dialogue Yes, I want Watch contributors to get paid, and yes I think the Watch is important, but I feel like the Watch is using sweeping, dramatic appeals to obscure the fact that this issue could have been solved with a conversation. Every society has to spend time and effort to ensure that they meet the KSU guidelines– it’s like 70 per cent of what running a society entails. Does the Watch feel to self-important to work with the KSU? Is it jumping to make the KSU into an enemy without justification? I hate to say it, but it really seems so.

I believe Watch editor attempted to organize a meeting twice with the KSU during the fall term in part to discuss this. Regardless, of the details of the Watch attempting to meet with the KSU. The KSU using a 15 year old document, which hasn’t been given any consideration for the past 14 years, as an excuse not to release designated funds meant to pay Watch contributors shows both a lack of common sense and integrity on their part.

Regardless of whether or not the policy documents are 15 years old or not doesn’t change the fact that the Watch needs to follow the rules set up by the people who give them their funding. There are certain rules that need to be followed, and the Watch editorial staff stomping around like children is making this whole situation a lot worse. Why wasn’t the KSU kept more in the loop about this? I’m sure they would have been more than willing to release the levy had the rules been obeyed. It’s fucking ridiculous that this is even as issue.

It’s actually the students of the University of Kings College that fund the Watch through a designated levy. How was the KSU not kept in the loop? Were they somehow unaware of their with-holding student levy funds from a student paper? I don’t think so. The age of the document actually could matter because for all we know it could have been amended or invalidated, seeing as it hasn’t been implemented for a 14 year period.

Hi all – thanks for your comments. I appreciate this situation has been confusing for those not directly involved. We are learning journalism, after all, not public relations.
I’ve offered to meet several times with the student union. We’ve had what I thought were productive and agreeable publishing board meetings. The Financial Vice President sits on the board. The KSU has agreed, so I understand, that the board agrees the board has voted correctly and the Watch is run well financially. I’m at loss as to why there’s been a such an enormous delay writing the cheque for the student media fee.
The paper has received what the KSU says is a quarter of the total year’s fee. I’ve heard no update whatsoever as to what’s the hold up on the other three quarters. I’m guessing it’s just administrative confusion. They’ve had a busy time lately with the big student day of action and the elections.
The board is looking at re-doing the governance policy once again, with the union and the administration, to make sure this situation is avoided in the future.
The Watch believes campus media should be independent, with strong governance policy to make sure it’s run with proper financial and editorial accountability. All this should happen without the perception of political interference.
Campus media from across Canada, alumni and administrators have reached out offering to help, which we greatly appreciate. I’ve been told by the KSU chair that the KSU is on the same page as the Watch. All is looking good, so we’ll keep up the work, and hope the cheque gets written soon.
Rachel Ward

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