By Negin Khodayari
As a contributor at The Eyeopener, and later as an editor, I was often faced with people’s blank stares and confusion as they asked “What’s that?” when I’d tell them about my work in Toronto Metropolitan University’s (TMU) independent student newspaper. To my surprise, despite our best efforts, there were still students at TMU who had yet to discover The Eye.
Our visibility to bystanders on campus diminished even further when the university made the move to proceed with online classes during the first year of the pandemic. Suddenly the halls that housed our newspaper stands were now vacant and the only readers we were able to reach were via our website––or on social media.
Recent developments with Bill C-18
Now, during the summer of 2023, after the enactment of Bill C-18, known as the Online News Act, Meta has announced it will be restricting Canadian news on its platforms including Instagram and Facebook––and yet again we face the challenge of gaining visibility in our community.
You can imagine our concern when some of our readers let us know in early August that our social media channels were no longer visible to them. This came just as we were beginning to triumph over our years-long battle with an already declining readership with the success of Volume 56––our first volume entirely back in-person.
Our new production schedule
On top of that, at the end of last semester, The Eye made the decision to move forward with a biweekly print schedule in the upcoming school year. This decision was made to accommodate for the rise in popularity of social media platforms and digital content.
People under the age of 35 prefer social media to traditional news broadcasts and platforms, according to a 2019 report commissioned by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University.
More specifically, there are studies that suggest university-aged students consume their news content almost entirely online and on their mobile devices, particularly on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, according to a journal article titled ‘Checking’ and Googling: Stages of News Consumption Among Young Adults.
In spite of recent Bill C-18 developments, The Eye will uphold its new commitment to increase its digital presence in an effort to explore mediums that best attract university students in the 2023-24 school year. Though we can’t say for sure what these efforts will look like now, we can confidently say we’re not going anywhere.
Cutting down on print issues won’t mean cutting down on content. The Eye is still devoted to keeping the university and its affiliates accountable, sharing important student stories and highlighting underrepresented TMU communities to the best of our abilities.
Holding everyone accountable
This year, we will continue to keep a close eye on the Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) as we gear up to follow their anticipated upcoming byelections.
In April of this year, the Elections and Referenda Committee (ERC) released a statement announcing the cancellation of the TMSU spring election. “New evidence has been presented to the committee that raises significant concerns about the integrity of the entire election process, not just the voting process which was the subject of our last Special Decision,” the statement, which was posted to the TMSU’s website, read.
The ERC’s statement said the TMSU must hold a byelection in the fall, in accordance with TMSU bylaws, but there have been no further announcements made regarding this matter.
Additionally, we will continue to do our best to follow all university developments, be it in relation to the increased presence of security on campus, the school’s acquisition of two new buildings in Toronto resulting in the displacement of the safe injection site located at 277 Victoria St., the school’s response to students’ increased concerns about their safety both on and around university grounds––and everything in between.
Our promise to you
But most importantly, we promise to be an honest reflection of you––the students. We are your student newspaper, so let us guide you as you learn to navigate a new campus, a new program, a new era of your life or simply a new semester.
We too, just like you, are facing some changes: a new production schedule and a new legislation to navigate––and though the future is unclear, we’ll keep you updated every step of the way.
It’s a whole new world––we’re happy to have you here.