By Lisa Urbach
The dean of the faculty of communication and design has squashed speculation that he is considering axing the Ryerson Review of Journalism.
“I have no intention of eliminating it,” Ira Levine said. “I’ve never suggested that it would be eliminated. I’ve kept it going for the past four of five years.”
Levine was responding to an article in last Friday’s Toronto Star which reported that he had said the school was considering eliminating the magazine.
Lynn Cunningham, the instructor at the review, was reassured by Levine’s comments.
“The [Review] has a long established presence and place in Canadian journalism and is not just student work. It is read and taken seriously by those in the business,” said Cunningham. “The administration shouldn’t jeopardize something as significant as the Review.”
The Review, now in its 20th year, is written and produced by Ryerson journalism students. The award-winning magazine is the only independent publication in the country which offers comprehensive analysis of journalism issues and profiles of prominent journalists.
The student-produced magazine has 4,500 subscribers nationwide. For many students, it is what lured them to Ryerson’s journalism program in the first place.
“If I can’t get practical experience working on the Review, than I don’t see a point in even coming back to Ryerson next year,” said Chris Jancelewicz, a journalism student who has applied to magazine stream next year. “I think it’s appalling Ryerson would ever consider cancelling the most renowned student journalism magazine in North America.”
Despite the magazine’s journalistic success, financial woes have been percolating for the past five years.
Cunningham said the Review was initially produced by grants from MacLean Hunter and Rogers Media. But when the grants were withdrawn in 1998, the magazine was supported by subscription costs and money raised by Levine.
Since 1998 the magazine’s production costs have created mounting deficits in Ryerson’s budget. Two weeks ago the Review’s designer, Ireland and Associates, threatened to withhold printing this summer’s publication because Ryerson had no paid a $12,000 bill.
Levine said that payment has been sent, but may not have received the authorized cheque yet.
Cunningham hopes this situation will lead to funding reform for the entire journalism program.
“The whole faculty has been starved for funding. It’s not [Levine’s] fault as it began when governments started underfunding universities. This has been an incipient problem since 1998 but nobody has dealt with it,” she said. “I’m angry that it has come to this.”
Vince Carlin, the chair of the journalism school, is not worried about the future of the magazine.
“There is no intention of shutting down the Review. It’s an integral part of the curriculum. This year the school has no money, but I’m an eternal optimist,” he said. “I always hope good sense will prevail and we’ll find a solution to the financial difficulties that is beneficial to the school and faculty.”