The office lore
As a disclaimer, our Operating Policy states that we are limited to only having one page per issue dedicated to satire and parody. The Speculator on the back page of the physical issue took this up. We have not requested any exceptions to this, and everything you are about to read is factual.
Throughout the year, we run weekly meetings for each of our sections. If you want to contribute as a writer, photographer, videographer or have a passing interest in anything we do, our door is usually open and the emails on the “Contact Us” tab on our website are one of our main sources of communication.
This is all simple enough. One of the things new volunteers often state is that they did not realize that it was a possibility or that they were too intimidated by the prospect to write for a publication with a campus-wide reach. We have addressed the first one, but the second one is a bit more complicated.
While nerves and writing with the intent for a large number of people to read it takes time and experience, I am still working on that and some related perfectionist crises myself, one of the more immediate aids is to provide a bit of background of the type of people who you would likely be talking to. You do not need to know any of this, but it may make you more comfortable than receiving answers from a faceless media organization.
The office has a plastic horse with written characters like &, # and ? on it and wears glasses. It tends to wear a rubber dinosaur puppet as a mask, and sits next to a mini Zen garden. There is also a suspiciously high amount of winter holiday memorabilia, and a picture of a hairy-nosed wombat one our former editors adopted for a month over four years ago.
Our “Editors of McMaster’s student newspaper” plaque took around five years to be updated because the experience of being the Editor-in-Chief is considered to be far more important than the recognition. However, it had to be done recently because it would have been odd to update multiple rows at once.
The paper is known for having the most consistently degenerate staff at the yearly Canadian University Press’ conference. We do not have a journalism school, we bring as many staff members as possible and tend to overwhelm due to sheer numbers alone. It also used to be known as the best university publication in the country a few decades ago.
Given that the office has no windows or sunlight and has questionable air ventilation, staff members tend to become neurotic and loopy after a point. This tends to happen if production night, the night before the paper is placed on stands, goes past 8 p.m. Previous Editors-in-Chief attempted to get staff to go for breaks and walks to help out, but often received resistance because interrupting creative work is hard for people.
The Silhouette was also the last university paper in the country to move away from broadsheet size to tabloid, about half the size, and that only happened this decade. Part of that was a sense of pride to stick it to other papers that wimped out and switched earlier. The other part was that working until 3 a.m. in the morning to get the paper out by that afternoon was, apparently, enjoyable enough to keep doing it with staff, colleagues and friends.
There is a constant obsession with karaoke. In particular, anything our in-house DJ plays during the “80s Power Hour” slot, The Killers and most songs that could spur an existentialist crisis are popular choices.
In short, whomever you may want to talk to about contributing, advice or feedback is probably odd in their own way and far less intimidating than your typical TA or professor.