C/O Yoohyun Park

Technology is taking over creative fields and classic media is fading 

Newspapers are known as digital subscriptions, books are known as Kindles and art is all about graphic design and digital forums now. Instead of flipping a page, we swipe a screen. Instead of a flick of a brush or the drag of a pen, we are tapping and swiping. 

Everything is digital now and it does not sit well with me, especially as an english and communications major. I love the smell of a new book, the way your fingers slowly turn black due to the ink from flipping through the articles of the day and the excess paint left under your fingernails once finished painting. 

I love the smell of a new book, the way your fingers slowly turn black due to the ink from flipping through the articles of the day and the excess paint left under your fingernails once finished painting.

Although the digital world makes it a little easier when compared to the preparation of physical crafts such as lugging around materials, I still love the process of it all.  

And do not get me wrong, I am not undermining the energy and time it takes to write an article, book or create a drawing virtually. It just feels as though we have lost the true purpose of the craft. 

Obviously, things are destined to evolve and change, but to have these artistic expressions shift completely to another realm tends make certain pieces lose their meaning.  

Being a child of early generation Z, I still had the opportunity to live a childhood that wasn’t ruled by technology. I never have a phone and my only source of technology was my television.  

All I knew was how to use my creativity to do something or make something. Despite the freedom from technology in my early years, I’m still annoyed at the fact that we as a society were introduced to iPhones and iPads when I was in middle school. 

Despite that experience, I cannot even fathom being a young child with an iPhone or using Instagram so young. Even in my classes growing up, I had already started noticing the impact media had on our generation specifically.  

Presentations started turning into slideshows, photography became incorporated in art class and even music class came with a focus on creating and editing music videos.  

Don’t get me wrong, all of these new technologies have led to immense progress. Just look at the innovations in fields such as diagnostic radiology. But I still miss the craft

I miss the rawness. I miss picking up the thick rolled-up newspaper on my driveway. I miss the excitement that came with writing. I miss looking at a painting and hearing the stories behind them and studying the brush strokes.  

I say I miss it as if it is non-existent anymore and even though I know it isn’t, I feel it slowly fading. Who knows? Maybe physical books won’t be a thing soon, maybe paintings won’t either and Google and Photoshop will be the only avenues to follow. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before we live in an entirely digital world.  

Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

THE STATE OF PRINT MEDIA

The constant drive of Hamilton print media is largely owed to the Hamilton Spectator, the city’s near-daily newspaper published since 1846. Sold to a parent company, TorStar, in 1999, the Spec may be owned across the lake, but it has been run, staffed, and read by Hamiltonians since it first began publication. 

 In August 2019, the Spec’s printing press stopped rolling. TorStar had decided to send the paper to a contracted plant. With the Spec’s final issue rolling out of the historic printing press this August, 73 full-time and 105 part-time staff will be out of work. The building itself might be sold off in an effort to cut costs. The Spec will still be in print, but printing will be outsourced to a plant outside of Hamilton. 

Despite the changes, John Boynton, TorStar’s chief executive, emphasized the company’s commitment to fully supporting the Hamilton community. If the Spec building is sold, Boynton anticipates keeping the head office of the Spec in Hamilton, but they are not required to do so. The headquarter’s future location will likely be based on TorStar’s financial interests, despite the importance of the Spec in the Hamilton community. With no promises from Boynton, the future of the Spec in Hamilton is not guaranteed. 

The Spec has been experiencing the same issues as other organizations in the news industry, with potential readers opting for digital media or bypassing reading altogether, where readers are being lost to the recent media ‘pivot to video’ and podcast boom. Sasha Dhesi, a Silhouette alumna and the Ontario representative for the Canadian University Press, said that the printing press’s closure is unfortunate as the city is losing an important part of the community. While she is not surprised by the move of media to a digital space, she acknowledges the downsides. 

“It's really sad to know that it's not in Hamilton anymore. I used to drive by the Hamilton Spectator printing building . . . every time I came into Hamilton when I was visiting my parents … knowing that the building isn’t going to be [printing] anymore is sad,” said Dhesi. 

Another blow to Hamilton print media came with the closure of Hamilton Magazine. Founded 40 years ago, the publication has focused on local news, community and arts. Hamilton Magazine ran independently for a number of years before being bought out by the Toronto-based media company PostMedia. With this summer’s issue being its last, two of Hamilton Magazine’s three employees will lose their jobs, while one will assume another PostMedia position. Marc Skulnick, Hamilton Magazine’s former editor, was unable to comment.

 

THE LEGISLATION 


Despite the precarity of print media, the federal government has committed to spending almost $600 million over a five year period, along with providing other incentives, for big media companies to stay afloat. It is unlikely that benefits from government media bailout would trickle down to Hamilton news publications such as the Spec.

An independent panel made up of media unions and associations across the country will dole out the government incentives. Panel members include the Canadian Association of Journalists, News Media Canada and the Association de la presse francophone, among others. Independent news organizations, small media outlets and individual journalists don’t have a seat on the panel. The panel gets to decide which companies received government bailouts while also representing the interests of their organizations. The very groups with a stake in the decision are the ones making it.

"I just don't think it's the right solution. I think it carries the potential to do more harm to news agencies' credibility than it does to actually do anything more than protect existing systems in the short term," said Russell Wangersky, a columnist at the St. John's Telegram, in an interview with CBC. 

While legislation at the federal level will affect large news corporations, the provincial Student Choice Initiative is likely to impact student publications across Ontario. 

Proposed last year, The SCI will come into effect this school year. The guidelines mandate that universities offer students the option to opt-out of ancillary fees for any services the Conservative government deemed non-essential. Essential services include athletics and recreation, student buildings, health services and academic support. Student news organizations are classified as non-essential under the SCI.

A survey by OneClass, a Toronto-based education-technology company, said that 57.4 per cent of students would opt-out of fees to support student newspapers. Jerry Zheng, a growth marketer at OneClass, administered the OneClass survey.

“I think it will definitely mean the end of print distribution for the student newspapers,” said Zheng in an interview with the Waterloo Chronicle. 

The fate of student news might not be as dire as Zheng suggests. However, the option to opt-out, if taken by a significant number of students, could effectively defund campus media. Student newspapers are responsible for holding institutions accountable, providing the student body with important information and act as training grounds for journalists. Defunding student media across the province effectively silences student voices. 

“If 80 per cent opt-in we’re a bit tight on cash but we’re not ruined. If only 20% opt-in then we’re destroyed. No one else is covering university content to the same degree,” said Dhesi, “Most newspapers, especially now … don’t have the resources in the same way that student news does. Student newsrooms are probably the only place where people can find stable work in news media.”

Dhesi also reflected on her own experience in a student newsroom and the diversity of voices she found there. 

“If you look at student newsrooms versus actual newsrooms, you’d be shocked at which ones are more diverse — but not really. I definitely think that losing student newsrooms and losing local media that have that effect reduce[s] the amount of people that [go on in the field] and diminish[es] the quality of journalism overall," said Dhesi.

 

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

While the move to the digital sphere may be the product of old industry adapting to the times, it could mean negative impacts for journalists and the free press as a whole. 

“And I think when we think about what makes up the Canadian media landscape, more and more publications are dying off everyday, and we really need those … we rely on three major corporations to give us all our news, and that's just not a good thing,” said Dhesi. 

Perhaps the Spec, the Silhouette and Hamilton Magazine represent different stages of the same trends. All have encountered the monopolization of the media industry, reliance on casual labour and decreasing funding or revenue. Stifling student news could snuff out future journalists before they even learn the trade. Overall, this constrains the field that holds the powerful accountable and keeps the public informed. 

As for the future of student news, the Silhouette isn’t going anywhere yet. Hamilton print media has persisted despite challenges that come with over 100 years of publication. As print media in Hamilton moves toward a new era, journalists, publications and readerships must adapt with the changes. Still, news publications have always been more than just print. While the printing press may slow its roll, the voices of journalists will persist.

 

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Photos C/O USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive

If you’re an avid reader of the Silhouette, then you’d know our annual rendition of Sex and the Steel City, much like the paper itself, has evolved quite a bit over the past couple of years.

Putting together this year’s sex-positive publication meant embracing the diverse ideas around sexuality, love and health. It’s about creating a non-judgemental space where experiences can be shared, identities are expressed and art can be enjoyed.

Through Sex and the Steel City we were also able to explore Hamilton’s history, challenge the issues our communities’ face and open eyes to future possibilities with passion and dedication.  

Every word and visual in this issue is also a reflection of the privileged position we, as a publication, are in to unapologetically express ourselves. A position that has been continuously denied to people historically and as of late.

For this reason our cover includes re-creations of stills from the recently discovered film Something Good - Negro Kiss. Directed by William Selig in 1898, the film depicts the earliest on-screen kiss between two Black stage entertainers and challenges the racist caricature prevalent in popular culture. In the 29-second silent film, Saint Suttle and Gertie Brown convey undeniable expression of love, pleasure and happiness.


[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="218" gal_title="Something Good - Nego Kiss"]

Stills from Something Good - Negro Kiss, a silent short film directed by William Selig in 1898 and starring Saint Suttle and Gertie Brown. The film was discovered and restored by University of Southern California archivist Dino Everett and identified by University of Chicago scholar Allyson Field.

 

We hope to continue the conversation around barriers that continue to marginalize identities today while also celebrating everything good they have to share.

Sex and the Steel City is a hopeful expression that love will prevail.

 

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In light of recent discussions made by the Student Representative Assembly concerning the fate of Incite Magazine, talks of the supposed “death of print” have once again circulated campus.

Incite Magazine is McMaster University’s creative arts and writing publication featuring student work across a wide range of mediums. The magazine, which prints three times a year, is entirely student-led and student-funded, receiving $1.02 per student annually.

Recently, the Finance Committee of the SRA made the recommendation to send Incite Magazine to referendum to determine its budget. If passed, the referendum had the potential to reduce Incite’s budget byhalf, or even remove it altogether.  

When a university that arguably undervalues the arts proposes cutting funding from a magazine that serves as one of the few remaining spaces on campus for creatives, the student body should be alarmed. While the motion to send Incite Magazine to referendum failed to pass at the SRA meeting on Jan. 6, even the idea that the magazine could nix their print publications and simply “shift their operations to an online platform” has harmful implications.

It’s no secret that many publications are going digital. Just last year, Teen Vogue, a popular magazine among millennials, discontinued their print editions. As more publications shift towards an all-digital platform, advocates for print media must stand strong.

But if the content is the same online, why bother printing? Print publications are much more than their content — it’s the experience of reading a print magazine that holds value. Content is obviously important but elements of production including graphic designs and layouts add just as much value to the finished product as the content itself.

Studies have even shown that time after time, readers will continuously choose printed magazines over their digital counterparts. Unsurprisingly, after a transition to an entirely digital platform, those print readers aren’t transitioning with the publication. They’re just gone.

Consider where you’re reading this editorial. Chances are, you picked up a copy of The Silhouette offhand, flipped through the contents, and skimmed the articles that piqued your interest. As far as technology has advanced, this experience cannot be replicated online.

So no, print isn’t dead. Nor should it be. As an editor of both The Silhouette and Incite Magazine, I’ve witnessed firsthand the hard work and dedication put into creating print publications. It’s my hope that readers recognize the efforts put into each issue and stand in support of print publications.

 

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My experience began with trying to write the best album reviews possible. It ended with the want to help the McMaster community by holding people, organizations and institutions accountable for their actions. Humble beginnings grew into the desire to create a high enough quality media source to rival journalism schools across the country despite not having one.

I wanted to help grow the Silhouette into one of the most credible media sources in Hamilton with a bunch of undergrads in programs that may not be related to journalism at all. Many of our paid staff had little experience of this nature or scale. Many of our volunteers had no experience at all.

Over my last five years of contributing, a lot of people have entered the windowless basement only to leave as lifelong friends. Generations of you have come and gone since I was introduced to the paper. You, as extraordinary members of society during your time here, have been unforgettable inspirations to my development as a writer and as a person.

No matter our personal circumstances, no matter how big the story and no matter how short the deadlines, we could always put our trust in each other to put out quality content week after week with laughs and beaming smiles in an office where brightness barely radiates otherwise.

For Sil alumni, I remember the late night sports games we watched as time ticked passed midnight and the want to watch just one more play before getting to work putting content on the website. Heated arguments over things as trivial as a top 10 movies list were funny in retrospect, but were battles to prove that your perspectives were valid and deserved consideration at the time.

I even remember how empty our mentions on social media became when my favourite trash talkers graduated. These were filled again years later with continuous support from members of the community who enjoyed our work.

These lofty, idealistic ambitions and goals were always meant to pass on the confidence and trust you had in me to a generation of Silhouette members you may never meet. I am sure that this year’s staff will understand the influence you have left on me with their own memories and experiences from this year, and I only hope that they remember me in a similar light to how I remember our times together.

For this year’s staff, I will always cherish the time we have spent together. The shouting, bad puns, food shared with friends, events attended throughout the year, the mix of vibrant and wonderful people and personalities have made this year better than I could have ever hoped for. Meetings with you all, a staff filled with members who were so eager to contribute, improve and share your work, reminded me of my humble beginnings and the feeling of pride from every piece published.

The responsibility has weighed heavily for the past five years to make my mentors and friends proud by trying to surpass the high standards they set. Our actions and words have the ability to help or hurt the people we trust and respect, and I hope mine have honoured you.

All I really wanted was to get a little bit closer to that ambitious vision so we could remember and respect the alumni that continue to leave their mark years after graduating and reach the full potential out of this year’s staff to create the highest quality product possible. I hope you are all proud of what we have accomplished.

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The Silhouette staff has always jokingly said that working in this office merits you a second degree majoring in The Sil. After having worked here for four years, nothing feels truer.

Every week the staff at The Silhouette churns out another paper. It’s considered small compared to most weekly papers and magazines, but an impressive feat for a student newspaper. We’ve worked unpaid overtime almost every single week that we’ve been here, and often use every moment that isn’t dedicated to schoolwork to edit and write articles, layout pages, shoot photos and videos, and hang onto some semblance of sanity for dear life.

I remember walking into the office in my first-year and sheepishly hovering around the door until someone asked me if I was looking for something.

And I was looking for something. I was looking for my place at this University, and luckily, I found it.

During the four years of my undergrad, I never quite fit into my program. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, and I was desperately in search of a place where I could feel both welcomed and challenged with new tasks.

The Silhouette was that place for me, and during my time here it has been more than an office. I’ve gained valuable life experience, met amazing friends, and have truly felt welcomed at our University.

For those of you reading and empathizing with the struggle to fit into your program, I cannot encourage you to join clubs more. McMaster’s larger faculties may not always provide the best learning environments, but our student body has gone above and beyond to create a system of clubs and services that can cater to all students.

Had it not been for The Silhouette, I may have dropped out of school in my second year, and who knows when I would have mustered up the strength to return.

Over the years I’ve seen four different staffs enter and leave this office. Each cohort has taught me innumerable lessons and inspired me by their work ethic. Whether it was a lesson in fact-checking, writing for a diverse audience, using my stories to send a compelling message, or simply knowing when to give up, I’ve learned more in this basement office than I could ever put to paper.

The Silhouette has been going strong for 86 years, and that is in thanks to the amazing people that have walked through these doors.

I would like to take this time to send a special thanks to the MSU for keeping us around for all these years and standing by our side even though many would like to think print is dead.

A huge thank you to all of my partners in crime over the years — SG, MB and JR — for keeping me sane. A shout of appreciation to our previous staff members and EICs for believing in me enough to keep me around this long.  SC, JW and AT, thanks a million.

And the biggest thank you to our amazing staff and volunteers for making this year memorable and successful.

This is really cheesy, but I’m happy to say I’ve now successfully earned my second degree, a B.Sil, and I can’t wait to witness the cohorts to come next.

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Every few months, we get a message from a student or alumnus who wants us to take down something they’ve written for the paper. Our policy around removal has always been that if the published article poses a safety risk or creates any other form of danger, we’ll take it down or take your name off the article as requested. Otherwise, we will work with the person to find alternative ways to mitigate their discomfort with having the article published.

Sometimes their requests are unreasonable — for example, requests to take the article down because the writing was bad, the author no longer agrees with an opinion article they submitted or that a true fact published in the paper will damage someone’s reputation. I understand these concerns. Now that all of The Silhouette’s articles go online, student’s writing, or the news about their on-campus activities is no longer just under university-wide scrutiny. Anyone around the world has access to it. This has been great for many of our writers and articles. We get readers from unexpected countries (as far as Australia!), and have expanded our readership significantly. It also means we get more complaints from people who don’t want the articles they wrote or are mentioned in to show up in their Google searches.

Wanting to delete articles you’re not proud of is fundamentally misguided. It speaks to a lack of understanding of individual growth. Whether it’s because your writing wasn’t as good as it could be, or you said something you don’t believe anymore, your acknowledgement of both shows how much you’re grown and improved as both a writer and a person. Publishing a controversial opinion in any online platform is an important decision. You have to be prepared for the backlash and the feedback, and be ready to defend your point of view. If you change your mind later and realize that you don’t even know the person who wrote those horrible things, then it’s up to you to own up to it.

Wanting to delete articles you’re not proud of is fundamentally misguided. It speaks to a lack of understanding of individual growth. 

If you fear a damaged reputation because you reported true facts, all I can say is: that’s too bad. The Silhouette won’t censor itself to help you clean up your public image. These situations can vary in severity, but they all speak to the need to act ethically, kindly and wisely in all aspects of your (public) life. This is especially true for student politicians.

While student newspapers and organizations are less serious and more forgiving than their “real world” counterparts, they’re still no joke. It’s a reality that’s not meant to scare you, but to inspire you to make the best of your time here. Put a lot thought into what you write and how you act. Stand up for things you believe in, but be open to changing your mind. If you make mistakes, the best thing to do is to own up to them. Even if we delete your article from our servers, rest assured that the internet at-large is not such a forgiving place.

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I love a good subtweet. So long as it isn’t misogynistic, racist or a personal attack on my upbringing, I usually get a strange form of excitement from people sending pseudo-insults across cyberspace.

Working for a creative product, I am no stranger to people thinking they can freely insult our product because it is something visual and easy to critique. Sometimes these comments are harsh and unwelcome and leave me questioning our readers, but every now and again, a productive message gets filtered through. And those are the subtweets our paper lives for.

The Silhouette is McMaster’s student paper. Your student fees pay for it, and we want to represent you accurately. All of our content is made by student staff, and everyone here is part of the McMaster community and the MSU. We like hearing from you. We like knowing what you want from us.

It’s easy to throw a snarky insult our way and reap in the favourites on your Twitter or Facebook post, but what we’re really looking for is your honest concerns and advice for a product that will make you happy.

To help get this feedback, I am excited to announce a new initiative that will help you share your ideas, while also providing us with the constructive comments we’re hoping for. “Silvision” is a three-part campaign that includes a feedback survey and public forum, and will share the ways you can get involved and materialize your visions for your student paper. Subtweet or not, we want to get your input.

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