The Dalhousie Gazette is North America’s oldest campus newspaper, publishing its first edition in 1868. Today, it’s one of the largest student-run weeklies in Canada and is as much a community paper for south-end Halifax as it is a campus publication: the Gazette covers any issue related to the city, its 40,000 students, and their concerns, which can include topics as wide-ranging as politics, technology, art, and social justice. Unlike some campus papers, the editorial staff and management are all students, but they are also paid for their time and expertise. Gazette staff are known for going above and beyond their duties and frequently break stories before the local mainstream media. Experienced staff train incoming contributors to write and report to a professional standard, and while the Gazette’s newsroom retains a laid-back feel, it has always been a working, professional newsroom.
I started at the Gazette as a sports contributor in 2008, covering lacrosse, soccer, and hockey and quickly developed a reputation for in-depth coverage of local soccer. I started Dal Soccer Live to provide live coverage of 2009 soccer nationals, and evolved it into a go-to resource for all those looking for news on the Dalhousie and King’s College soccer teams, as well as AUS and ACAA news. I continued that platform until 2011 while also writing more and more features for the Gazette, where I was promoted to sports editor in 2010.
As sports editor, I both wrote and edited the majority of the Gazette‘s sports section, taking what had been a niche section and turning it into one of the premier features of the Gazette and its fledgling website, driving local readership by providing quick information, relevant analysis, and features on aspects of local sports other media often missed. I mentored and developed numerous young reporters, some of whom began with no reporting experience at all, into a sports desk that could compete with local dailies. In 2011, Gazette Sports provided leading coverage of the 2011 Canada Winter Games hosted in Halifax, breaking critical stories about injuries and illness at the Games that were picked up by national media. At the same time, I also helped manage the rest of the Gazette editorial team through a number of collaborative challenges.
In 2011, I was promoted to editor-in-chief and president of Dalhousie Gazette Inc., where I initiated a rebuild of the company’s internal culture to avoid the collaborative problems of years past. I also began a comprehensive overhaul of dalgazette.com, taking what had been a badly-designed and badly-updated campus website and turning it into a local news platform that drove thousands of readers on multiple occasions using live content, interactive information, links to digital resources, and social media. Finally, I hired and worked with a new business team to repair the paper’s image with advertisers and secure new digital advertising deals. Because I’ve always treasured opportunities to write, I also wrote and edited frequently during my tenure as editor-in-chief, and was involved in helping create the paper’s Creative section.
I left the Gazette at the end of my term in 2012 with both a new constitution and a culture dedicated to pursuing entrepreneurial journalism on subjects other media miss too often. Successive editors have brought their own changes to the paper, but it remains both a key source of post-secondary news in a market that revolves around students and one of the most professional student newspaper companies in Canada.