The year in campus media took perhaps its most interesting turn last Monday with the launch of the Prince Arthur Herald, a new online conservative student newspaper based at McGill.
The website’s political positions, which tend to be libertarian, are articulated in a 25-point Statement of Principles.
“Our paper supports freedom of the individual, individual choice, and the free market as the most efficient [economic system] and the [one] that respects human dignity the highest [for] the organization of society,” said Editor-in-Chief Brendan Steven, U1 history.
Steven added, however, that the website, which so far has published exclusively opinion pieces, will encourage dialogue, both between different types of conservatives and more generally between conservatives and liberals. Though most of its 17 columnists have backgrounds in international and domestic politics, there will also be columns on sports, culture, and the pro-life movement. While many columnists will have typical conservative leanings of one sort or another, among them are Zach Paikin, who is a former president of the Young Liberals of Canada, and Grace Khare, a board member of Queer McGill.
“Our hope is to engender voices that previously didn’t have a place in campus debate,” Steven said.
The Herald is undeniably a response to the McGill Daily, most explicitly with its formulation of a Statement of Principles, which is one of the Daily’s hallmarks. Both Daily Coordinating Editor Emilio Comay del Junco and Steven acknowledged the two sources’ opposition.
“Obviously, we do take political positions that [the Herald] disagrees with, and they think there is a general conception that it is a response to the Daily,” del Junco said.
Though del Junco acknowledged a difference of opinion, he indicated that it was important to have a plurality of voices in campus media.
“In some ways it’s kind of unfortunate that it comes out as an opposition because I think there is a lot of space … for that kind of expression to happen,” he said.
The idea for the newspaper was born last semester, and Herald President Kevin Pidgeon, U2 history, began to build the site in December.
Their costs, so far, have been negligible. One of the advantages of the online-only format, they said, was that the students involved could easily foot the bill. For now, the editors and columnists are willing to work without payment. Though they plan to expand their operation in the future, the website will operate on low costs, so it will not have to run advertisements. Pidgeon explained that this was a way to establish an independent image for the Herald.
“One of the absolute classic condemnations of the right is, ‘You’re a mouthpiece for big business,’ and in some cases it’s absolutely true. But our aim is to do absolutely nothing of that sort,” Pidgeon said.
Though the Herald is based at McGill and is primarily staffed by McGill students, the newspaper wants to be read and written by students across Canada.
“Canada, at the end of the day, has elected a Conservative government; a lot of voters vote on conservative political principles,” Steven said. “Clearly in the broader political community there is a place for conservative values, so why not at university?”
Pidgeon and Steven said that they planned to offer “24/7” coverage, a feature which they claimed distinguishes them from other campus media outlets. The team of columnists and editors aim to put out between five and six articles a day.
They have no plans to move to other media yet, but they have considered moving to print in the distant future.
Steven was not shy about his ambitions.
“We want to be Canada’s and McGill’s premier student news source,” he said.