The college’s student-produced campus newspaper, The Algonquin Times, is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
On Wednesday, Sept. 17, 1986, the Times’ first ever edition was published. The Times was the brainchild of Mark Atkinson, who was the general manager of the Students Association at the time, and Bob Loucks, the coordinator of the journalism program.
The paper was staffed by volunteers from both the journalism program and the greater college community.
Working alongside the SA, the college’s media students, over 20 years, gradually took over the Times, integrating courses with support and leadership from both journalism and advertising programs.
Developing a course that was structured around the production of the school newspaper was a way to give credit to students for the task they were carrying out. “To get them excited about the word they were doing,” said Robyn Heaton who is currently the dean of the School of Media and Design and used to coordinate the advertising department.
The incorporation of the Times into the curriculum meant an increase in faculty, helping both programs grow.
“It was a well-oiled machine,” said Heaton. “It was a team effort between two programs and students had great opportunities to interact and solve problems.”
After 2000, colour was introduced to the front page by Joe Banks, current coordinator of the journalism department.
This development meant a more eye-catching image, which from the advertising perspective was good for business. “It jumped off the boxes,” said Heaton.
Others involved in the Times’ evolution agree that the paper has been a successful teaching and learning tool for students.
“The paper has always been ahead of its time,” said Jack Doyle, the general manager of the SA. “As far as being a learning enterprise for the college’s students.”
While the SA owns the Times, it is a hands-off publisher for the Times, allowing the students working on the paper to have total freedom of the press.
Doyle, a business administration grad from Algonquin, has been around for the entirety of the Times’ existence. He said that as the campus community newspaper, the Times’ purpose has always been to be a watchdog on the community – a set of eyes to see what’s good and what needs to change.
For the 30th anniversary, Doyle would like to see all editions of the Algonquin Times digitized, although it’s not yet an official project. “It’s to do something special,” said Doyle. “30 years is a long time.”
Publication for the Times happens other week during the semester, along with an online edition to provide access to digital readers. Some 5,000 copies are printed and circulated at all three campuses, as well as neighbourhoods surrounding the Woodroffe campus.
The Times is meant to appeal to its entire community: Algonquin. Which, according to the college’s website, has a student body of approximately 62,000, including full-time and part-time students and welcomes on average 10,000 new students annually.
The Times is a big part of Algonquin’s history and how it’s kept, said Doyle, who in the future hopes to see the Times continue to be successful and to maintain its independent voice.
“I’d like to see the Times continue to hold the SA and Algonquin College accountable,” said Doyle. “To the students and to the community.”