People looking for a fresh perspective on some of the news of the day might want to turn their eyes towards the University of Victoria, as a growing roster of journalists look to make a name for themselves at the Martlet, the university’s independent student newspaper.
Established in 1948 and now on its 70th volume, the Martlet distributes 6,000 physical copies biweekly on campus and in the Greater Victoria area while publishing content regularly online. Stories are written and edited primarily by a team of student volunteers who can learn and develop valuable skills in journalism.
Helping aspiring writers is one of co-editor Sarah Lazin’s favourite parts of the job.
“I think it’s really important to give students a chance to learn and grow,” she says. “Making mistakes is a part of learning.”
Three months into the position, Lazin says “it’s really reminded me how much I love what I’m doing.”
Being a university paper, the Martlet’s main focus is on issues that pertain directly to students, co-editor Cormac O’Brien says.
“If it’s on campus, chances are we’ll wanna write about it. Beyond that, I think the Martlet has a pretty good reputation as an alt-news source, and so we’re always pushing towards that.”
Topics of interest on that front include drug use, homelessness and housing affordability in Victoria. “We’ve got a pretty unique viewpoint because of the fact that a lot our writers are students,” O’Brien says.
This year marks the first in over a decade in which there are two co-editors guiding the paper, something O’Brien says is incredibly useful, since it allows both him and Lazin to continue their studies. O’Brien studies creative and professional writing, while Lazin studies political science and journalism.
“It really makes a world of difference having that second head to bounce ideas off of,” he says. “Balancing between the philosophical and the day-to-day stuff is obviously made a lot easier with two people.”
“As with any job, there’s so many more parts to it than you imagine,” says Lazin. “Having that extra piece of support is invaluable.”
As they head into the new school year, both editors are planning to keep providing opportunities for up and coming writers to tell the stories they want, how they want.
“Feeling like the student journalist just tagging along is really frustrating and really challenging,” Lazin says, “so if we’re able to give aspiring writers a ‘grown-up opportunity,’ that’s going to be so beneficial for them to have in their portfolio.”
“You should be, and you will be, writing better from your first article through your last article,” says O’Brien. “And I think that’s reflected in the content, too. It’s always improving.”