Student thinking and researching
December 21, 2017
6 mins read

Share your voice in UBC's student media organizations

The Ubyssey newspaper and CiTR radio station offer unique ways to get involved in campus life. If you have something to say about student life at UBC, these places give you a platform to share it.

As UBC students, we’re presented with a myriad of opportunities to get involved, whether it’s with student government, campus clubs, or faculty events. Some of these opportunities leave you with a free t-shirt or a free lunch. Others will provide you with marketable skills that will help you succeed in your postgrad life. Volunteering for campus media organizations definitely falls into the latter category.

UBC is home to 2 terrific media organizations run by students, for students. Here’s a quick primer on what they do, and how you can get involved.

The Ubyssey

You’ve seen them lying around campus: copies stacked on newspaper stands or strewn across empty lunch tables. Maybe you’ve even picked up a copy to read while waiting in line for food at the cafeteria. With fancy illustrations on the front page and provocative headlines about things that could only happen at a university, The Ubyssey is the campus newspaper and a key pillar of student life at UBC.

Published every Tuesday during the school year, The Ubyssey covers the day-to-day events on campus and how bigger developments in Vancouver and beyond will affect students at UBC. It is run solely by students and is completely independent of both the AMS and the university administration. As editor Jack Hauen says, “It is the paper of record, and one of the only media sources covering what is basically a medium-sized city with no government.”

The Ubyssey keeps you in the loop about important issues that affect students, including the governing of the university, student government elections, university finances, and tuition increases. It also helps to build a sense of community and inform students about all the interesting things you don’t know about your campus.

The Ubyssey is run solely on a volunteer basis and any UBC student can get involved. They’re always looking for fresh ideas for stories, student opinions on university issues, and a helping hand on production day. There is no better way to develop reporting skills than to get hands-on experience writing for The Ubyssey—and this is coming from a journalism student.

Students taking notes at a talk

The best part is that you don’t even need to be interested in journalism to contribute and develop your skills. Whether you have a budding interest in photography or want to learn more about coding, there is surely something for you to do at The Ubyssey.

Students who volunteer can develop a wide range of useful skills including writing, editing, interviewing, graphic design, web development, photography, videography, and more. Contributions range from the small (e.g. editing copy, making illustrations) to the large (e.g. reporting news stories, producing videos, designing pages).

Get involved at The Ubyssey

Students can contribute to any of the following sections: News, Blog, Culture, Sports, Science, Features, Opinion, Photo, Design, and Video. It’s super easy to get involved and no experience is necessary. The editors and experienced staff members are very approachable and willing to provide training and guidance.

If you think you might be interested, here’s how you can get involved:

  1. Sign up for the pitch list: The best way to get started is to sign up for The Ubyssey’s pitch list. By providing your email and identifying what your interests are, you’ll start receiving story assignments you can claim and other information like meeting times.
  2. Drop by the office: The Ubyssey’s office is open from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays during the school year and the door is always open during these times. It’s located in room 2208 of the AMS Student Nest. Pop in to say hello anytime, meet the staff, and ask any questions about the paper or contributing.
  3. Email a section editor: If you already know which section you’re interested in contributing to, send an email to the section editor and they’ll let you know how to get involved. They might even hand you an assignment on the spot. Editor emails are available here.
  4. Attend a staff meeting: By attending a weekly staff meeting at The Ubyssey’s office, you can get a window into the inner-workings of the newsroom. Staff meetings are open to all students. Also, this is one of the only times that every section editor is guaranteed to be in the office. A new time for staff meetings will be set in the new year. Check out The Ubyssey website or sign up for the pitch list for updates.

CiTR 101.9 FM

CiTR is the local campus radio station dedicated to providing alternative, locally-based programming and a platform for underrepresented voices to have their say. Media has a reputation for being elitist, white, and male, and CiTR wants to change this by adding a diversity of voices to the airwaves.

The station is run by both students and community members, and hosts a wide range of radio shows, broadcasting over 100 different programs in 7 languages. They have a professional broadcasting studio and 2 recording studios in their office in the basement of the AMS Nest.

Whether you want to host a music show, learn how to edit audio files, run a soundboard, or produce your own radio documentary, CiTR can empower you to do so with the training and equipment you need to make it happen.

Running a soundboard

Some of the activities you can do at CiTR include:

  • Show hosting
  • Producing ads, PSAs, and spoken word content for the airwaves
  • Live broadcasting
  • Listening to, cataloguing, and rating the independent music submitted to the station by local bands
  • Event coordination and tabling
  • Promotions and outreach to students and the community

There are 8 spoken word collectives at CiTR: Accessibility, Arts, Indigenous, Gender-Empowerment, News, Sports, UBC Affairs, and Women’s. Collectives are teams of volunteers who collaborate to produce weekly radio shows. They’re great because they gather together groups of people with similar interests and allow you to develop a wide range of skills, including writing, recording, audio editing, interviewing, and running a soundboard.

Getting involved at CiTR

Students can contribute to CiTR in a number of ways: by becoming a member, joining a collective, hosting your own radio show, or just helping out around the office.

Here’s the best way to get started:

  1. Take a station tour: The first step to getting involved at CiTR is to take a station tour. A CiTR volunteer will show you around the station and answer any questions you have. Station tours take place every weekday during the school year at noon. Sign up using the form on the CiTR website or email the Volunteer Manager to arrange an alternative time (volunteer@citr.ca).
  2. Become a CiTR member: In order to access training workshops, station equipment, music library, and recording studios (for a CiTR project or even one of your own), you need to become a member. Luckily, it’s cheap! It’s only $10 for UBC students. You can pay in cash after completing your station tour, or by dropping in to the station and speaking to the Volunteer Manager.
  3. Complete your training: One of the main focuses of CiTR is to provide students with training to help them develop radio skills on their own. They run 4 introductory training workshops that are necessary to get you started. Training consists of technical, production, programming, and spoken work or music. Each workshop is an hour and they run several per week. You can sign up at the station or by emailing the Volunteer Manager to arrange an alternative time (volunteer@citr.ca).
  4. Volunteer around the station: Every Wednesday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm is Volunteer Wednesday. Drop by the station and lend a hand. This is a great way to meet people and get an easy introduction to how things work at the station.
  5. Join a collective: Once you’ve completed your training you can join one of the collectives. Each collective has a weekly meeting where they discuss what to do for their weekly show.
  6. Pitch a radio show: If you have an idea for your own radio show, CiTR will try to facilitate it by giving you a time slot for a weekly show. Make sure your idea is well thought out and that you can commit to filling an hour each week. You will need to produce a demo so CiTR has an idea of what your show will be like. Visit the CiTR website for more details.

Discorder Magazine

Discorder is a print magazine published by CiTR that covers the local music and arts scene in Vancouver. Published 10 times per year, Discorder is distributed for free all across Vancouver. While its staff is much smaller than that of The Ubyssey, they publish some pretty awesome coverage of the independent music scene in Vancouver.

Student writing on laptop in coffee shop

If you have an interest in arts, culture, or music, Discorder is a great place to explore that interest further. Similar to The Ubyssey, volunteers have the chance to improve their writing, editing, photography, and visual design skills. To get involved with Discorder, check out their website or email volunteer@citr.ca.

My Experience

I’ve volunteered for both The Ubyssey and CiTR since I started at UBC in September. It’s been such an incredible experience so far. I’ve met some great people and learned so much from those around me.

Since volunteering for the news collective at CiTR, I’ve hosted our weekly news program “Democracy Watch” several times, conducted live interviews with guests on-air, gone out into the field to cover several news events, and learned how to edit news segments for radio.

At The Ubyssey, I’ve written several articles for the “News” section. Even though I’m studying journalism at UBC, I’ve still learned so much from my experience there and am so thankful to the great editors for making me a better writer and reporter. The Ubyssey is a fantastic organization made up of passionate students who work incredibly hard between classes to provide students with the news about our university.

There are so many ways to get involved at university. But contributing to your campus newspaper and radio station have got to be some of the coolest ways.

Remember: you can contribute as much or as little time as you want, and you’re guaranteed to learn something along the way.