Advice for The Medium—an antidote to irrelevancy

The Medium sucks. Here’s how to fix it.

I know few who associate Mondays with a fresh edition of the school paper. Even less who anticipate with dread or want, or any feelings at all. The Medium has become irrelevant in the collective mind of UTM. This sucks, not least because we are all forced to pay for it, but because a school newspaper should be more than what it is now: a toilet read.

Here’s some advice: Take yourselves seriously.

A campus newspaper is supposed keep students informed, and in doing so keep check on all the elected student officials. Historically, reporting on the student union has been the bread and butter of The Medium. I would even say it’s one of their primary responsibilities.

Here is a snippet from an older student handbook: “One of the little pleasures we at the Medium II get out of our relationship with ECSU, is that the fact that no matter what we print, they can’t sue us (they’re the legal publishers, and it’s somewhat difficult for them to sue themselves).” Wasn’t that refreshing to read? Do you think any of the elected student officials are even slightly worried about an interview with the Medium?

Since the start of the 2017-2018 academic year, “Past UTMSU president hired for new position” is the only article that comes close to equipping students with facts to think critically about the UTMSU. The article curiously fails to make the connection that the incoming new hire was the UTMSU president the year they rejected the campus pro-life club for ideological reasons, even though The Medium covered the resulting lawsuit. It seems fair to at least wonder if this person is suitable to represent all marginalized voices as the campaigns and communications coordinator.

What about their choice to invite Sandra Hudson to speak at their black history month event? The first and only comment on the UTMSU’s event page reminds us that Sandra Hudson was sued by the UTSU for embezzling $247,726.40 from students. The suit was settled, but isn’t it mildly inappropriate for the UTMSU to invite a speaker that was recently litigating against a sister union? Maybe they are doing a great job, in which case why doesn’t The Medium show off the progress they’ve made on their various campaign promises? The campaign promises that I can’t seem to find anywhere?

It’s not just the UTMSU either; In the most recent article about the academic affairs committee, there was no mention of Jihan Khatib and Nour Shell being absent in two of the three meetings. Even if these students who campaigned for their positions were to have perfect attendance from now on, they would have missed a third of the meetings.

The Medium is too timid, groping and uninvolved to captivate. And evidence for this is found no where better than the opinion section. Specifically, in Ayesha Tak and Mahmoud Saroujis’ articles.

No one opens The Medium expecting sophisticated opinions on female actors or middle eastern politics. Few op-ed pieces are relevant to students, and critical opinion is no where to be found. The Medium staff are supposed to be some of the most informed people about the campus, here is an idea, write about UTM!

I’d love to hear the editor’s opinion on the price increases to the student dorms, what does he think about the defunct state of CFRE? Do you think we really need a GTA U-Pass? Is the amount we spent on the Duck Stop a good idea? Are you concerned that UTM might have to compete with the Sheridan-Ryerson expansion?

Or at the very least, don’t write lies. I’m of course referring to The Medium’s copy editor. To Tak’s credit, her writings in other sections are precise and forthright. And sure, it is the opinion section, which technically and unconvincingly separates Tak from the political leanings of The Medium. But I don’t think it’s a controversial opinion that any content in The Medium should be treated as if it is going to be read. As if it’s important.

I won’t rehash what has been said before. When professor Jordan Peterson, an academic with more than 9000 citations is characterized as “can’t make his mark in the field of psychology”, really, enough said.

Tak recently wrote another op-ed piece. She misrepresents the facts once again. Watch the video, then read her description and you’ll see what I mean. It feels Ayesha Tak and Mahmoud Sarouji are not concerned with the campus and her people, and they don’t believe their words could have any influence. Their opinions are written as if no one will read them. It is through the cracks of bland indifference that carelessness and virtue signalling seeps through.

The Medium doesn’t need to look very far to find aspiration. The Varsity has a much more active comment section, with a comparable selection of op-eds. Enhancing internationalization, undergraduate research, why students should petition for acceptance of Rohingya refugees are the first three titles. The first two are explicitly about U of T, while the third at least has a call to action for students. These articles feel like they are inspired, genuinely caring, and focused. In other words, they feel like they matter.

The Medium isn’t a victim of apathy, it’s a cause. The people there need to understand the power and responsibility of a student publication. I hope to see the day when The Medium becomes a force to be feared and a helmsman for change.

 

RUSSELL WU