After 11 years, UNBSJ’s student newspaper gives print another chance

    Still of the sign for the University of New Brunswick Saint John student publications 'The Baron.' (Submitted: The Baron)

    The Baron, UNB Saint John’s student-run newspaper, has brought back print paper after 11 years. 

    Emily Wheaton, editor-in-chief of the Baron, has had an interest in coming back to print ever since she took office. 

    “When I became editor-in-chief, it was something I had in my mind to do,” said Wheaton. “I didn’t feel like we were providing enough for students.”

    The Baron printed around 400 hard copies of their end-of-semester special. To many students and staff, this was a first-time experience. 

    “I think people were weirded out a little bit at the beginning that there was a paper on campus,” said Wheaton, who had to teach some students how to read the newspaper. 

    “The funniest story was just like students would smell the paper and be like, ‘oh, it’s a real paper,’” she said.

    Wheaton explained that they still publish online but now they will have two print editions during the winter semester, and expect to increase to a monthly print in September. 

    “There is more interest now and people are more eager to pick up more copies.”

    Matthew Heans, staff writer for The Baron, said that print gives the impression that his work is being more actively read by a student community. 

    “[Print] makes it feel like my work is a lot more impactful and better affects the UNBSJ student community,” said Heans.

    Wheaton said that this transition to print helped them curve the loss of audience due to Bill C-18. 

    “I don’t think a lot of people realize that Bill C-18 affects student papers,” said Wheaton. 

    On June 22, the federal government passed Bill C-18. Also known as the Online News Act, it required that major technology companies compensate media organizations to maintain the presence of Canadian news on their platforms.

    Related: Bill C-18: University Publications caught in the ‘crossfire’

    Google will pay $100 million annually to news publishers that will continue to allow access to Canadian news content through its platform. However, Meta – the company behind Facebook and Instagram – decided to block Canadian news from their platform in response to the law. 

    “Our Member of Parliament, Wayne Long, I talked to him about it, and he didn’t even realize that we would have been affected by it,” said Wheaton. 

    Philip Lee, journalism professor at St. Thomas University and former newspaper reporter, said that the difficulty is in how you make sure your work is being read, watched and listened to, with digital publications.

    “It seems like a simple solution, but maybe it is a solution to get back into a physical space,” said Lee regarding Bill C-18.

    Lee believes that there is still interest in reading physical copies and that print “had a tremendous amount of value to society in many ways that I think it’s been a real loss.”

    “There’s a whole other level of artistic creation that goes into a print publication as opposed to publishing online.”