Editorial: Practicing what we preach
In March 2023, The Link published its final editorial of the academic year, resulting in the volume being cut short. Titled “The Link Has a Problem,” the article’s purpose was to shine a light on the unethical labour standards and practices staff members were expected to follow.
Six months later, we have an update on our working conditions.
The day following the editorial’s publication, we held our general elections. Members of the managing team ran on promises of systemic reform and policy changes. Within a few weeks, The Link’s Board of Directors was notified of the editors’ requirements for such an overhaul.
We spent the next three months in numerous meetings, spanning hours, negotiating potential solutions. By the end of June, we had successfully drafted a package of structural reforms. To our astonishment, the Board unanimously approved the overwhelming majority of our proposals.
We are calling Vol. 44 of The Link a pilot project. Using a sizable portion of our investments, as well as funding from grants like the Local Journalism Initiative, we’re testing out what an alternative financial model could look like for student journalism in Quebec.
Similar to many other student groups, editors are paid weekly honorariums, while some staff writers are also sporadically compensated based on their involvement. Prior to the reforms, an editor was making approximately $110 per week. Staff writers would receive a smaller honorarium in a rather arbitrary manner. We changed those numbers.
Under this pilot project, editors will be receiving at least $305 as a weekly honorarium. As Vol. 43 ended, we asked every editor to give us an estimate of how much work they did weekly. We then applied Quebec’s minimum wage as a metric to determine an editor’s honorarium, which is how several other student newspapers in Canada operate.
Beyond editors’ pay, we additionally knew we needed to reform how contributors and staff writers were remunerated. Furthermore, we passed the creation of The Link’s Contributor Freelance Fund, a method for every single contributor and staff writer to be compensated for their work. More information can be found on our website and on the back of this print issue.
The editorial we wrote also mentioned serious problems of insensitivity, racism, discrimination and other forms of intolerance that made the work culture at the newspaper toxic. We have invested resources into mapping out the future of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion at The Link. Moreover, we are in talks with prominent advocacy journalists in Quebec who do important work involving marginalized communities. Mandatory training sessions for staff members on these vital issues are in the works.
The Link has called itself an advocacy publication for years, but in order to act as advocates, we first need to ensure our working conditions reflect our values. It’s time to ditch the empty words and practice what we preach. We must respect ourselves as workers.
However, this is all easier said than done. Alternative funding methods can only go so far. In a matter of weeks, a fee levy increase to The Link will be on the ballot for all Concordia Student Union and Graduate Students’ Association members. Concordia community, we need your help to keep campus journalism alive and thriving.
This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 1, published September 5, 2023.