Dear directors of the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance:
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a regional conference for students in media and journalism hosted by The Lance at University of Windsor. I was impressed to see a campus publication that is flourishing and had cemented itself as a pillar of not only the University of Windsor community, but also the greater community of Windsor, Ontario. Of all our members, The Lance is one publication that has shown some of the most significant growth and development over the past year and to cease print publication would be a massive blow to the positive momentum that your newspaper has.
While there have been several consecutive years of declining advertising revenue, it is still the best possible income source for any publication. By not allowing The Lance to solicit print advertising, you effectively remove any opportunity for future growth and development of the publication. Additionally, the printed newspaper has far greater exposure both on campus and in the community. By being physically present in the lives of readers, they are more aware of the important issues facing your community that The Lance reports on as well as the hard work that the journalists at The Lance put in to the paper does not go unnoticed. Put simply, The Lance is both a resource for their readership and the staff and removing the print publication threatens the value of this service. Furthermore, switching The Lance to an online-only medium is misleading to the students whose fees are used for this publication as they are under the belief that the service they pay for is a newspaper. Finally, the fact that this action to cease print publication of The Lance was done without any consultation with the editorial staff of the paper or the students who pay for it is inappropriate, heavy handed, and is not working towards the best interests of the students at the University of Windsor.
On behalf of all of Canadian University Press, I urge you to reconsider this decision to stop print publication of The Lance, a newspaper that is entrenched in the culture of University of Windsor and has faithfully served its students for the past 85 years.
President, Canadian University Press
To the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance,
I’m writing to you to denounce your decision to shut down The Lance’s print publication and implore you to re-evaluate the decision. Why? Well, let’s look at the facts surrounding this decision.
You did not consult or meaningfully engage The Lance staff before deciding to slash their budget.
You have evidently not conducted industry research regarding online advertising revenue in comparison that of print, nor taken the initiative to discuss the fiscal implications your decision would have with Lance staff. If you had, you would know (as perhaps you do now, considering how many letters are pouring in) that by forcing the paper to online-only, you have effectively slashed two thirds of The Lance’s operating budge. Considering the concern the UWSA has voiced about The Lance’s finances (namely that $24,000 deficit) this is hypocritical to put it nicely. Stupid, to put it bluntly. You are criticizing a paper for getting in over its head and then, in the same breadth, pushing it even deeper.
Now onto that $24,000 deficit. You probably thought you were iron clad with a number like that to point to. Wrong. A $24,000 deficit in February does not indicate that the paper will finish its year with a deficit. If you had consulted The Lance or in fact done any sort of research, you would know that advertising monies have a typical payment delay of three months. Which means that, in as little as two weeks time, that deficit you are claiming as your defense could very well evaporate – and, if so, what exactly is your excuse? Well, having dealt with student politicians for the past three years, I think I can make an educated guess.
I read with great interest and disgusted fascination Jon Liedtke’s article, Electile Dysfunction published in The Lance on April 2. What a funny coincidence that an article so critical and revealing of the internal practices and problems of your organization goes to print three days before your decision to push the paper to online only. Having read that article, I can’t say I’m surprised by this near-sighted and reactionary decision.
Finally, you made the decision to be effective immediately putting editorial staff and ultimately students at a loss. Staff for the work they’ve already done on for a paper that has already been paid for by students’ fees. You pulled the trigger as a kneejerk reaction.
As Quebec bureau chief and incoming-president for Canadian University Press, I implore you to tune into some national news and Twitter – student journalists and professional journalists are publicly calling you on this bullshit and you will have to account for it.
Make the right decision, re-open talks with The Lance and reverse your decision.