My name is Amir Ahmed; I edit the Medium’s Features section. A funny thing that happened last Tuesday, something that prompted me to emerge from the pit of self-loathing that is my life, and write this op-ed.
I was in The Medium office with Photo Editor Edward Cai, Sports Editor William Robertson, and our Editor-in-Chief Saaliha Malik. The U-Pass distribution was going on downstairs in the student centre.
The first floor was packed with a tight line-up of people, moving slowly and just growing larger.We reasoned that these people were probably bored, who wouldn’t be? I’d just seen someone move about three metres in three minutes, with a long way to go. What could we do to alleviate their boredom and show loyalty to our readership?
And then we realized – newspapers! We had copies of our first September issue lying around. Edward and I reasoned that if we each took a stack, we could supply some people waiting in line downstairs with papers. There were at least two hundred students down there, so even accounting for the ones on their phones or talking with friends, there had to be some people who’d appreciate a break in the monotony of the lineup. I went down with Edward, ready to bond with the students and spread the good word of The Medium.
I found in that sea of bored humanity, the majority of students passed on taking a copy of The Medium, maybe they thought we were trying to sell it to them?
I don’t understand how the majority of students would rather stare at the floor than read their campus paper. As a casual observer of human behaviour, I can only ask: what the hell?
Maybe it was just me and my rictus grin that scared people off, but something tells me that even if I’d been suave man-god Aamir Khan instead of pasty, awkward Amir Ahmed, I’d have done no better. This means something far scarier is going on than me and my Charles Manson smile.
Now, here’s the thing: all the section editors of the paper really want people interested in our articles. We want to make you laugh. We want to make you think. We want to show you things that you hadn’t seen before. We brainstorm article ideas, we come up with distribution plans, and we spend our Sundays from noon to midnight laying this paper out, all to get you guys reading. But if all we produce at the end is going to lie on the stands bleaching in the sunlight, then what’s the point? I might as well put graphic descriptions of my daily bowel movements on my section’s front page every day.
That’s why I’m going to ask you – yes you – that breed of student who reads the paper – to do us a favour.
Comment on the website and email the editors. If you see an article that you disagree with, send a letter. If you see an article that you like, tell us so we can try to do more of that. I can’t promise we’ll be able to follow every suggestion (we have to follow rules and conventions just like any other newspaper), but maybe we can start to understand what it is that’ll get people taking papers off the stands, instead of using the stands to adjust their backpacks and purses (yeah, we saw that too – we see everything).
This is the only newspaper by and for UTM students. I personally would love it if you to read, and enjoyed it.
It’s pretty dissapointing to me too that people would rather stare at the floor than read UTM’s very own student-made newspaper. Even though I’ve just started working with you guys, I already feel like I’m part of an awesome team of people. Why don’t students take a few minutes out of their day to browse the newspaper then? I think it’s for the most part, they already have a bunch of (probably boring) readings to do for class and the prospect of more reading isn’t so appealing. As someone who plans on being in the written-word-business for her entire life, I think this is a trend brought on by all the technology and distractions we’ve got these days; the average utm student would probably fiddle with his or her cellphone than pick up a copy of the medium, sadly :( But for what it’s worth, you’ve always got my support; I’m gonna try and campaign for you guys all year long and bug my friends to read the Medium whenever I see them. But seriously, I don’t think all hope is lost! Because there are definitely a bunch of us who pick up the Medium and read it regularly, and appreciate all your guys hard work. Good luck and I’m super excited to be working with you guys for the next year! ;)