David Climenhaga: Why do we need the Martlet?

Alumni Testimonials

As part of the Martlet 70 Fundraiser, we’ve asked former Martlet staff to answer an important question: why do we need the Martlet?

2018-03-18 Martlet

“Why do we need the Martlet?” The arrival of this question by email filled me with
trepidation. The last time I followed up on an innocent request from a Martlet
editor, I was sued for defamation — along with more than a dozen co-defendants,
including a judge.

Well, this is a lower-risk question. Twenty years ago, the answer would have been:
“To train aspiring journalists to the point they can get real jobs without having to go
to law school.” Plus, beer was involved. But that was before journalism in general,
and newspapers in particular, went to hell in a hand-basket.

So the bad news about what was known in those quaint pre-Internet days as “the
student press” is that there are very few “real jobs” left in journalism. The good
news, and partial answer to this question, is that students are among the few people
still practicing real journalism nowadays.

Moreover, if solutions are to be found to the seemingly intractable problem of how
to save journalism in the digital age, ensuring its democratic role continues, it won’t
be by the cynical old wheezes who run legacy media. Bereft of ideas, these people
have lately taken to shuffling off to Ottawa, caps in hand, begging for cash so they
can continue to write editorials demanding fiscal austerity. They are immune to

If solutions are found, it will be by energetic young people at places like the Martlet.
This is reason enough to keep at it. Plus, in my experience, it’s more fun than a
barrel of political science courses.

David Climenhaga was editor of the Martlet in 1973-74 and 1976-77. Subsequently, he
worked for the Calgary Herald, the Globe and Mail and like places, and taught
journalism at a couple of institutions of higher learning. He is author of the
AlbertaPolitics.ca blog.

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