Future of student newspaper threatened over editorial
Published Wednesday, January 31, 2018 7:13PM CST
For more than a hundred years, "The Manitoban" has been the voice of students at the University of Manitoba. It has survived the Depression, the Second World War, and the decline of print media.
"As far as the student body's concerned," said editor in chief Garett Williams, "It's the only campus coverage that reports on what’s happening in the university."
The student run newspaper covers the faculty, university administration and the University of Manitoba Students Union, or UMSU. And it's recent coverage of UMSU that has landed the paper in hot water.
"We've gotten heated feedback before, but it’s never been of this nature," said Shawn Huberdeau, who wrote an editorial criticizing UMSU's upcoming plebiscite on withdrawing from the Canadian Federation of Students.
Days after it was published, a motion was introduced by a student councilor to have a referendum asking students if they wanted to continue funding the newspaper.
Each student pays a levy of just over $12.00, money used to pay "The Manitoban" employees’ salaries, and equipment.
"There were a lot of facts that were incorrect in the article to be honest," said Tanjit Nagra, president of the University of Manitoba Students Union. "I think one thing some folks are frustrated with is the lack of fact checking some times. But at the end of the day, it is an editorial, it is an opinion piece, and we need to understand that."
Because it was an opinion piece, editor Garett Williams says UMSU should never have attempted to take away the newspaper's funding.
"I think the responsible response to it, would have been to submit an editorial challenging what we might have published," said Williams.
And it seems cooler heads will prevail. Late Wednesday afternoon, CTV News was sent a statement from UMSU saying in part, the councilor "...has withdrawn a motion to hold a referendum to discuss defunding The Manitoban, the University of Manitoba's student newspaper...after a tremendous amount of initial feedback from the student body indicating wishes to continue financing The Manitoban..."