Concerning Links & Literature
An Open Letter from the Lit Arts Editor About the Future of the Section
I have some grim news. Next year there will be no Lit section. (!)
Requiescat in Pace.
As part of a planned revamp to the paper, Literary Arts is being merged into Fringe Arts, which is being split into two sections: Arts, which will be online, and Culture, which will be in print, and will be the slightly-more-Lit-focused one.
I feel this merits coverage since none of the paper’s other four current sections—News, Features, Fringe, Sports or Opinions—are having their mandates deleted or lessened, and in most cases, those mandates are being expanded to a degree that requires not one, but two editors. Literary Arts is simply a casualty of numbers: The Link won’t have enough money to pay all those new masthead members (it barely has enough to pay the 14 we have now) without cuts being made somewhere.
Though The Link will continue to cover stories of a literary bent—in fact, the Culture editor will be mandated to do so to the tune of at least one piece a week—there will no longer be an editor tasked solely with generating literature-based content, nor will there be a single section devoted to it and only it.
Will The Link’s coverage of the Concordia/Montreal/Canadian lit scene suffer? That’s largely up to you, the readers, to decide, frankly. Beyond his or her own skill-set, available time to devote, and stick-to-itiveness, an editor’s production depends on both the quality and the quantity of his/her contributors and staff.
So: If you have any interest in the future of literature coverage—not just in The Link, but in publications generally, you should get involved, pronto.
The Link functions as a paper in its own right, but it also acts as a training ground and jumping-off point for Concordia students interested in pursuing careers in journalism. The less The Link covers literature, the fewer people leave Concordia with actual experience in covering literature in a journalistic context, the fewer people actually end up covering any literature out there in the world of journalism itself. Already, newspapers across the country are cutting their books and literature sections down, if not out altogether.
Books sections aren’t sexy. Poets don’t generate advertising revenue. Short story collection reviews don’t move copies out the door. The power of literature is nice and all, but Nabokov and Joyce and Woolf themselves couldn’t drive up subscription numbers if you brought them back from the dead and taught them how to use a phone-headset. We can’t prevent literature coverage from being largely eroded from the mainstream media, but it is certainly easier to do if there is no one both interested and qualified covering it.
If the idea of contributing stories based in and around literature—both print and digital, both local and national—sounds interesting to you—and remember, reviewing books means you get a free copy of what you review, interviewing an author means you get a free experience of talking to a real-live famous (maybe) person, and people who contribute to four or more issues a semester are eligible for a small financial compensation for their effort—then get in touch with The Link ASAP. Getting some good practice in over the next few weeks will go a long way towards easing the transition and making sure the Culture editor has interested, practiced, willing and competent Lit nerds at her disposal. My email, which will remain operational for the next three weeks, is email@example.com
The Lit section may be on its way out, but there will remain events to cover, books to review, authors to chat up, and new writing to be written. So get them fingers tappin’ and those cursors clickin’ on the “Send” button.
Bittersweet cheers from your ever logorrheic Literary Arts Editor.
Literary Arts Editor
This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 25, published March 8, 2011.