Canadian University Press
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Canadian University Press logo
|Type||Organizations based in Canada|
|Purpose||advocate and public voice, educator and network|
|Headquarters||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Membership||55 student newspapers at post-secondary schools in Canada (as of November 2013)|
|Official language||English, French|
|Affiliations||National Union of Students, National Student Press Week|
Canadian University Press is a non-profit co-operative and newswire service owned by more than 50 student newspapers at post-secondary schools in Canada. Founded in 1938, CUP is the oldest student newswire service in the world and the oldest national student organization in North America. Many successful Canadian journalists got their starts in CUP and its member papers. CUP began as a syndication services that facilitated transnational story-sharing. This newswire continued as a private function until 2010 when it was turned into a competitive source for campus news in the form of an online public wire at cupwire.ca.
CUP's head office is in Toronto. Prior to April 1995, the head office was located in Ottawa. In Ottawa, CUP ran a printing company, called Common Printing Group, which was owned jointly with the National Union of Students, which was located in the same building as CUP for several years.
A national conference, which doubles as an annual general meeting, is held once a year in a different city. Each member paper exercises one vote at conferences. The president and national bureau chief are elected at the national conference, or NASH, while the regional CUPboard members are either elected via online referendum, or at regional conferences held in the spring. Each region has an annual event subsidy which can be used to host events within the region, or jointly with other regions. This usually takes the form of regional conferences held in the spring and in the fall. January 2011 will mark CUP's first fully bilingual national conference, in Montreal, hosted in part by the McGill Daily and Le Delit.
The current structure for CUP, of a permanent newswire offered to Canadian University newspapers including the full-time president, was established at CUP 22 in Quebec City in 1959. Prior to this date the service was looser and more oriented towards an exchange of clippings between the papers. One of the delegates at CUP 22 was future Canadian Prime Minister, Joe Clark, representing the University of Alberta paper, The Gateway.
CUP is divided into six regions: WRCUP (Western, including British Columbia and Yukon), PNCUP (Prairies and Northern, including Alberta, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Saskatchewan), ORCUP (Ontario), CUPbeq (Quebec), ARCUP (Atlantic, including New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island), and PUC (Presse Universitaire Canadienne, including all French language members regardless of geography). Other acronyms for regions include CUPberta (Alberta), and CCUP (Central CUP, Saskatchewan and Manitoba). It also has four special issues caucuses to promote diversity, address the under-representation of marginalized groups and encourage discussion of social issues: Colour Caucus; Disabilities Caucus; Queer, Trans and Allies Caucus; and Women's Caucus.
Member papers contribute articles to the CUP wire, which also runs stories authored by CUP staff. There are news, features, opinions, arts, sports, and graphics wires. After stories are edited by the national bureau chief, they are made available on the wire for publication in CUP member papers.
CUP formerly owned a multi-market ad placement agency, Canadian University Press Media Services Limited, which operates as Campus Plus, offering advertisers one-stop access to student newspapers. Campus Plus declared bankruptcy in 2013. Until 2007, CUP was the sole member of the John H. McDonald Journalism Foundation, a charity named after CUP's first president. Though the charity has been folded, it lives on through the yearly John H. McDonald Student Journalism Awards.
In 2005, CUP declared the last full week of every January, Sunday to Saturday, would be observed as National Student Press Week to celebrate the achievements, diversity and freedom of the student press.
National and regional staff
Now and in recent years, the national bureau chief has also served as CUP's vice-president. In some previous years, the national executive was made up of three or four staff and also included a national features editor (who also held the title of vice-president) or national affairs writer. These staffers held their positions at the conference listed and were elected at the previous conference. In CUP's early days, the titles of president and secretary were awarded at a conference to a newspaper, which would then fill those roles from among staff members.
Currently, the national office staff consists of the president, which oversees CUP's finances and administration, and the national bureau chief, which manages its part-time editorial staff and curates the CUP wire service.
Part-time editorial staff consists of six regional bureau chiefs (British Columbia, Prairies and Northern, Ontario, Ottawa, Quebec and Atlantic) and at least four section editors (arts and features, opinions and humour, sports, and French). CUP also employs a communications manager, translator, two special issues coordinators (queer and anti-racism). In order to organize the national conference each year, CUP hires two conference coordinators and one awards coordinator.
Board of Directors
Until the early 2000s, CUP was administrated and controlled between national conferences by only the president and national bureau chief. While the staff was required to execute the will of members are agreed upon at plenary, many major decisions could be made by the national office on its own. After the Agent Magazine problems, a movement spearheaded by staffers at the Ontarion drafted and approved a motion calling for the creation of a CUP Board of Directors. Approved at NASH 63, the board guarantees every region at least one director. Any region with 20 or more member papers receives an additional director. All directors are elected at the plenary of their spring regional conference.
At NASH 69 in Vancouver, CUP membership voted to add the position of a continuity representative to the Board of Directors as a voting member. Subsequently, at NASH 70 in Ottawa, this position was made into an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors. A staff member (President/NBC/Regional Director) from the previous year fills the position. It was created as an attempt to stabilize CUP's leadership since it goes through an almost yearly changeover.
Currently, the Board of Directors consists of six regional directors (Western, Prairies, Quebec, Atlantic, and two Ontario directors), along with a national Francophone director, an industry advisor, and the continuity representative.
Every year since its inception, CUP has held a national conference, also known as NASH. The conference moves around the country and serves as the annual general meeting of the organization. It also features a number of training seminars and high-profile keynote speakers. The New Year's Eve parties were sometimes raucous events, as the new year was rung in five times to mark each of the nation's time zones. The extinguishing of a motel fire put a damper on the party at North Bay, Ontario, on the last day of 1983.
NASH has also served as the platform for the John H. McDonald Awards for Excellence in Student Journalism, also known as the Johnnies, since 2003. Inspired by the National Newspaper Awards, the vision of the awards is to "celebrate and reward the excellence that can be found in so many publications at universities and colleges across the country." Any student whose work has been published in a CUP member publication may be nominated for an award. There are currently 21 award categories, which cover different types of reporting (such as news, arts, features, sports, opinions, and some of their French counterparts), art and photography, design, and a new category for Most Promising Student Journalist.
CUP also hosts smaller regional conferences each year for the British Columbia, Ontario, Prairie & Northern, Quebec, and Atlantic bureaus.
In April 2013, CUP signed a three-year agreement with a new national advertising partner called FREE Media. The marketing group was co-founded as a division of the independent national advertising agency FREE by two CUP alumni, former Gateway business staffers Ashleigh Brown and Vikram Seth.
CUP's previous advertising agency was Campus Plus (officially Canadian University Press Media Services Ltd.) which was formed in 1980 and closed in June 2013 after declaring bankruptcy. Campus Plus' bankruptcy trustee MNP took charge of collections in the months that followed and issued payouts to member papers.
CUP is partnered with CWA Canada, a division of Communications Workers of America, a union which "advances the economic interests of its members, improves their standard of living, and strives to guarantee equal job opportunities and human rights." CUP members may join CWA Canada as an associate member in order to join its mentorship program with professional journalists, attend training and networking courses and events, and seek opportunities for internships and freelance work. The CWA representative for CUP also helps members coordinate training opportunities at their publication.
Financial crisis of 2014
In March 2014, CUP launched a 42-day fundraising campaign on the platform Indiegogo in an attempt to raise $50,000 toward its operating budget after finding itself in a financial crisis. Beginning March 1, all 12 of CUP's part-time staff members (including section editors and regional bureau chiefs) were laid off, and the president and national bureau chief received cuts to their salaries and benefits.
After an audit by the Canada Revenue Agency, CUP was forced to pay a $9,000 for incorrect taxes. It was then discovered that the organization was projecting its third deficit in a row, this time for $7,000. With all of its savings now spent, CUP stated that "with no reserves to draw on, it’s imperative for the existence of CUP to take action now."
The crisis comes not long after 10 members of CUP left in September 2013, resulting in a 15 per cent drop in total membership, due to complaints over high membership costs. CUP may also see further trouble as a number of those member publications have now formed a service called the National University Wire similar to and rivaling the CUP wire. The most recent CUP national conference in Edmonton, Alta. also attracted fewer than the expected number of delegates and therefore did not generate as much revenue as expected. Additionally, the demise of Campus Plus left CUP with fewer dividends to generate income. With all this having taken place in a relatively short period of time, CUP lost more than $70,000 in three years and ended up in financial and existential crisis with just more than $1,500 in the bank before the fundraising campaign.
- Student newspaper
- News agency
- List of student newspapers in Canada
- Agents of social change
- National Student Press Week
- CUP & The Strand present the Ontario Regional Spring Conference. The Strand. 7 March 2007.
- Canadian University Press
- Campus Plus (Canadian University Press Media Services Limited)
- John H. McDonald Journalism Foundation
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