The future of journalism has taken unexpected turns in the face of the digital revolution, and the Internet is becoming a new home for newspapers and magazines. Student newspapers are an important part of the campuses they represent across Canada. A national news source run by students that explores higher education did not exist — until now.
UDaimonia, named after the Greek word for happiness, is an online, not-for-profit news magazine that aims to connect Canadian students across the country, and will be launching on Feb. 15.
University of Alberta student Emerson Csorba is the founder of UDaimonia. In 2012, he founded The Wanderer, an online news magazine for U of A students, which has received over 40,000 hits and is ongoing.
Csorba said that student newspapers are important, however, a national news source for Canadian post-secondaries written by students is needed. He said that other organizations, such as the Huffington Post, the Globe and Mail or Maclean’s, do not report on student issues with students’ perspectives.
“Right now there are university affairs that cover higher education in Canada that is mostly from the perspective of professors,” said Csorba. “But there isn’t anything that is really substantial on a national level that is run by students.”
The Canadian University Press is an alliance of student newspapers throughout Canada. UDaimonia differs from CUP in that it will be an independent, single source for student news.
Csorba also wants a larger connection and fewer gaps between Canadian students.
“The whole goal is to have more students across Canada speaking about higher education,” said Csorba. “UDaimonia will be a single website that students can go to that brings together perspectives from many different people in different places across the country.”
Csorba said UDaimonia is expected to run at least one story per day. It will function on a budget of $100 per year for domain and web hosting. The content will have a strong focus on student issues and will be edited internally. Currently, there are editors at the U of A and in Ontario.
Students who are willing to contribute can submit a pitch online when the site is launched.
“So far, we’ve put together about 20 writers at various universities, some that are recent grads and some that are just finishing up, and the goal is to have at least 10 articles up when we launch,” he said. “I don’t envision there being any ads on the website, so it doesn’t really need much more than the $100 that we spend each year on hosting. I don’t see funding being a large issue.”
Csorba said that post-secondary institutions in Canada are constantly changing and incorporating more technology.
“I want more Canadian students to be engaged about their university education, especially as higher education is changing really rapidly,” he said.
Csorba said he wants UDaimonia’s content quality to be high.
“We really need to have people who are committed to read over all of the articles that will be published, but at the same time I don’t think it will be too much of an issue for editing if we only have one or two articles going up each day,” he said. “We still want our content to be really high quality and we need people who are engaged and passionate.”
UDaimonia contributor and fourth-year U of A nursing student Maggie Danko wants to explore students’ mental health in Canada. Danko has not written for student newspapers, such as The Gateway, but she has contributed to The Wanderer.
“I think student news is a great outlet to talk about issues that are important for [students],” said Danko.
She said UDaimonia will be a new way for students to explore higher education.
“[UDaimonia] will be a different avenue that has not yet been explored and, being a national magazine, it’s a great way for students across the country to unite common needs and interests,” said Danko.
She hopes that as the site develops there will be a collection of strong writers and editors from across Canada.
The Gateway’s Editor-in-Chief Ryan Bromsgrove said that student newspapers are important tools to keep university administrations and student governments in check.
“I think that student newspapers are very effective,” said Bromsgrove. “We certainly think that we have been effective as a student newspaper, and as a means of giving students beneficial information.”
He said that a national news source run by students has the potential to be effective as well. However, he stressed that the editing process may be one of the biggest challenges.
“I’m not opposed to the idea,” said Bromsgrove. “I think the general concept of an online national newspaper could certainly be helpful to students, and a student run one would be better than some of the stuff we already see.”
Csorba said he is excited for the launch of UDaimonia, however, he does admit that it will have its challenges.