Campus newsstands were stacked with the first physical edition of the Algonquin Times in two years, as staff distributed the newspaper in mid-March.
The Times has been the college’s community paper for around four decades, with its first edition ever coming out on Sept. 17, 1986. Produced by the students in the journalism and advertising marketing program it’s been delivering news to student, faculty, staff and neighbouring communities ever since.
Although the Times has been delivering community stories online for some time, it had always continued to publish physical copies of the paper.
That all changed in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the staff and faculty to shut down publication of the print edition.
Midway through fall 2021, it became clear to faculty that the students would enjoy making the editorial decisions on the paper. They’d also enjoy being able to show it off to family and friends.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Julie McCann, journalism professor and program coordinator. “I couldn’t be more excited for the current students to experience a newspaper to hold. Finding a way to produce this paper with the current students has been extremely rewarding.”
For Magan Carty, journalism student and the editor of the Algonquin Times, being able to bring back the print edition of the paper makes “normal” feel closer than ever. Having it in hand helps create a sense of community.
“It feels super special to be a part of the team making the first print edition of the paper since March 2020,” said Carty.
Other members of the college community are enthusiastic about the return of the paper too.
“It’s a welcome return,” said Karen Kavanagh, coordinator of the Algonquin College advertising and marketing communications program. Kavanagh’s students sell the ads in the newspaper, run community events and produce marketing content.
Lydia Peever, a former professor in the journalism program and currently the paper’s graphic designer, says print editions can be be helpful for keeping new students and alumni informed – but they can also make people smile.
“Having the newspaper as a touchstone in the halls may be more important than we suspect,” said Peever.
The return of the print edition of the paper wasn’t just noticed on campus. After the city’s mayor, Jim Watson, shared his congratulations with students on Twitter, staff members visited his office to deliver an edition.
“When I saw the paper issue come out, when I read about it on Twitter,” said Watson. “I thought this was great because we need to encourage papers to stay in business and help support them anyway we can.”
“Not everyone is going to go electronically to find the news. They like to have something in their hands,” Watson said. “I’ve always found that the community paper sticks around your house longer, you take it and read it more like a book.”
Watson admitted to being an avid reader of the Times for many years, and that its return is a sign that we are getting back to our regular lives pre-COVID.
“Pick up the paper. Read it,” he said. “Appreciate all the work that’s been into it, and let’s hope that next year you get out to ten issues.”
For the Times staff, the hope is that reading the print paper might help to bring the community closer together.
“You are lucky enough to be a part of a rich, diverse , interesting college community,” said McCann to would-be readers. “Read your own stories, read about the people who graduated, about current students and about faculty members in your community.
“You will not be disappointed to know about the company you keep.”