Beginning in 1938 as the Sentinel and the Microscope and founded as the Martlet in 1948 (and briefly changed to the Cougar City Gazette in the 1970s), it’s safe to say the Martlet has come a long way in its 70 years as UVic’s independent newspaper.
“The Martlet, I think for me and a lot of people, defines our university career and life,” current co-Editor-in-Chief Cormac O’Brien says. “I know there’s a quote from Jim Bigsby, an old Martleteer, who said that he graduated from UVic with a degree in the Martlet and a minor in Economics.”
Now, in conjunction with its 70th anniversary, the Martlet has announced a fundraising campaign to help finance new computers, a printer, and website designs.
“Generally, it’s an equipment fundraiser. But if we break that down further, we need new computers — we’re currently running on computers that are from 2007–2008, which just aren’t up to the job anymore — we’re fundraising for a new printer [to replace one] which currently prints about one page at a time, and that’s only if it’s in a good mood,” says O’Brien.
“We’re also fundraising money for a new website, just because anybody who’s tried to access it in the last few months will know oftentimes you’re getting the error message.”
“[We’re] making sure that we are staying as competitive as possible in an increasingly digital media landscape.”
The fundraising period is broken down into two different parts, and will be kicked off at a gala at the Temple Building downtown on March 23.
Promising to be an “exhibit” of Martlet history, the gala will allow for the newspaper’s famous alumni to reconnect. The event is open to anybody, and members of the community are encouraged to come.
“The Martlet affects more than just the people who have worked there,” O’Brien says. “Students, UVic alumni, community members from Victoria, or anyone who appreciates campus news and student media, are all more than welcome to come out.”
The exhibit will feature front covers from specific decades, important moments in the Martlet’s history, and stories from alumni about their time working at the paper.
After the gala, the Martlet will launch a GoFundMe page, which will allow people from all parts of the world to donate until mid-April. Anyone that donates to the GoFundMe page will be eligible to win Martlet merchandise and prizes donated in-kind by the community.
After 70 years of publishing, the Martlet boasts famous alumni that have gone on to work in the journalism world and had works published internationally.
Mark Hume, who worked at the Martlet in the 1960s, is now a National Correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Vancouver. Mary Vallis, Editor-in-Chief in 1998, wrote for the Toronto Star and the National Post. J.B. MacKinnon, co-Editor-in-Chief in 1992–1993, is a current contributor to the New Yorker.
The bestselling book The 100-Mile Diet, widely recognized as one of the starting points for the local foods movement, was co-written by MacKinnon and Alisa Smith, another Martlet co-EiC alumna.
O’Brien sees the Martlet as a great learning experience for student journalists to learn how to work in the industry — especially here at UVic, where there is a Professional Writing Minor but no specific journalism major.
At the same time, O’Brien calls the Martlet a place where he has garnered lifelong friendships with both staff and volunteers, while also developing his journalism skills.
“For me, the Martlet definitely means community and friendship. Which is kind of corny, I guess. But I don’t know if I would have met anybody else if I hadn’t been in that newsroom 24/7.”
O’Brien sees the money from the fundraiser as crucial tools for the Martlet to stay up-to-date in the changing journalism industry.
“Those are the three main areas: new computer, new printer, and a new website,” he says. “[We’re] making sure that we are staying as competitive as possible in an increasingly digital media landscape.”
Members of the community are invited to attend the Martlet’s gala on March 23 at 6 p.m. at the Temple Building in downtown Victoria. Admission is $12 and includes a free drink. With a ticket, students can also bring a guest for free (student card needed for validation upon arriving at the event). Updates on the event and the GoFundMe page can be found on the Martlet’s Facebook page.