Letter from the Editor: Here’s to 75 years of publishing

Letters Opinions

The Martlet celebrates Volume 75

The Martlet's summer volume 75 staff, photo by Sie Douglas-Fish.
Martlet staff copy editing the first paper of Volume 75. Photo by Sie Douglas-Fish.

The Martlet office holds many secrets. 

I knew this coming into the position of Editor-in-Chief. The eclectic decor, worn and dirty couches, shelves of bound archives, and general disarray hinted at stories told and untold beneath the surface. But it wasn’t until the Operations Manager and I began searching through the office’s file cabinets that I began to think about what memories this space holds.

On Dec. 3, 1948, this newspaper’s name was voted upon and changed to the Martlet. It refers to the three birds on the crest of Victoria College, the predecessor of the University of Victoria, which reference the college’s association with McGill University. 

A martlet is a mythical, footless bird, a forever-flying creature from its apparent drop-birth to mid-flight death. The UVic brand says that these birds symbolize the “constant quest for knowledge” at the university. Today, there are still three red martlets on UVic’s shield, flag, and coat of arms.

In conversation with previous editors and long-time staffers, I realized that the history of the Martlet was somewhat complex, including how we got this name. Many knew our origins, but the knowledge itself was hand-me-downs, each generation of editorial passing on tales to the next.

In the final month of Volume 74, I pulled open the metal file cabinets. Inside one drawer are stacks of old negatives, black and white prints, miscellaneous notes and stickies. The drawer below carries floppy discs, one an internet application for a Macintosh computer. 

The drawers aren’t necessarily well organized, although it might have made sense to the original editor, or they could have been tampered with by a successor like myself. 

Most of the photos have no descriptions, but I can recognize some places. A rally at the legislative building, students gathered outside campus security, a UVic basketballer dunking on an opposing player. What I see in these old negatives, dusty copies, and yellowing pages, is what stands at the heart of student journalism: community. 

Without readers and without community, these are just what they are here in the basement of the Student Union Building. Piles of forgotten moments.

While it takes courage to be a voice, an alternative voice at that, it also takes having an audience. Having someone to inform, stories to amplify, interviews to quote. 

So thank you to our readers and community. For three quarters of a century you have kept this independent newspaper flying.

We strive to continue to tell your stories, report on our local issues, and give the next generation a platform to find their style and make the Martlet their own. 

Here’s to Volume 75.