The AMS announced the amalgamation of Yearbook & Design Services (YDS), Convocation Services and Queen’s TV (QTV) into Studio Q on Monday afternoon, sparking criticism from former QTV employees.
Studio Q will serve as the primary video and graphic content creator for AMS Marketing & Communications, live stream Gaels home games for Athletics and Recreation and create the Tricolour Yearbook and Agenda.
AMS Vice-President of Operations Justin Reekie told the Journal via email that the AMS amalgamated the services due to overlap between YDS and QTV. He added that Convocation Services was included because operating expenses for the service already include advertising services from QTV.
Reekie said Studio Q will not retain QTV’s mandated editorial segments, which include news and entertainment.
“We will not be mandating any segments, but rather opening up the possibilities of any editorial content to be created by volunteers, including news,” he said.
“Preserving their editorial autonomy, if the Studio Q team feels that a news segment is necessary to document and disseminate Queen’s life, then that is what Studio Q is now even more capable of doing.”
QTV currently receives a mandatory student fee of $3.00, and YDS an opt-out fee of $21.43. Reekie said the AMS will bring a new opt-out fee proposal to the AMS Assembly on Feb. 12, to go on to the Annual General Meeting on March 10.
Emma Fuller, QTV’s current executive producer, said she and YDS Head Manager Isaac Kim had initially discussed the idea of amalgamating their services after being hired last year, but hadn’t expected it to happen so quickly.
“We’re not getting rid of [the segments] — we’re instead creating a space where the opportunities to work creatively and create content is still there,” said Fuller, ArtSci ’16.
Kim, ArtSci ’15, said Studio Q will fulfill YDS and QTV’s mandates of preserving, distributing and cherishing Queen’s culture, events and student life.
“The fact that we actually share that same mandate without even explicitly making that our mandate is mainly the foundation of why we can and why we should merge,” Kim said.
He added that Studio Q will focus on what the volunteers want to do and what the student body wants.
“We do have a responsibility to the student body, as well as the students who volunteer with us,” he said.
Some QTV alumni criticized what they saw as a lack of value for QTV’s editorial content.
Eugene Michasiw, QTV’s executive producer in 2011-12, said he was “shocked” and “saddened”.
“My year was the first year really to focus on these production services, as well as live sports — those were two pet projects of mine and our business manager at the time,” said Michasiw, ArtSci ’13.
“We did grow them for the purpose of growing editorial content, so we would buy equipment for production services only so that would come back and feed back into the news service.”
This move eliminates more than 30 years of history, Michasiw said, and erases years of work put in by volunteers and supporters of QTV.
“If there is a problem — I wasn’t aware there was a huge problem — but if there’s challenges that they’re having with producing consistent news coverage, the answer isn’t to eliminate the news coverage,” he said.
“The answer is to find better avenues for support, find better avenues for mentorship.”
Daniel Szczepanek, AMS media services director in 2011-12 and QTV’s executive producer in 2010-11, said the amalgamation is “tragic” and added that he’s reached out to alumni in hopes of leading a concentrated effort to make the AMS reconsider its decision.
“Having a variety of media outlets is really essential to the free flow of information … I really believe that university campuses are supposed to be the origin of intelligent discourse and challenging perceptions,” said Szczepanek, ArtSci ’12.
“Removing that editorial wing of QTV through this amalgamation really means that the Journal is the only true media outlet left on campus, and I think it’s a sad state of affairs if we’re going that direction.”
Travis Rhee, QTV’s executive producer in 2013-14, said he thought Studio Q could help students interested in media integrate more with other services — but added that the AMS seems to let media services fall by the wayside in favour of hospitality and retail services.
“We also are not as corporately structured as retail,” said Rhee, ArtSci ’16.
“I feel that sometimes allows them to feel they have the liberty — since they control our finances, they can kind of twist and turn us.”
He said last year’s AMS Vice-President of Operations, Nicola Plummer, didn’t interfere with QTV’s editorial autonomy, but the AMS did push QTV to move from a space in the JDUC to one in Macgillivray-Brown Hall.
“I wanted to stay in [the] JDUC because it’s where we are, but considering I was trying to think of the future and if I found out in two years our service would have been dissolved, I would have said ‘no, not at all’,” Rhee said.
Rhee said with the loss of QTV’s editorial side comes the loss of student opportunities, adding that QTV trains students interested in broadcast journalism at a school without a journalism program.
The ramifications of this change won’t be evident until “two or three years down the road”, he said.
“A new opportunity is arising with Studio Q, but we lose Queen’s TV – it’s gone,” Rhee said.
“And for me, it’s like, what value did I add to Queen’s TV? What value did our alumni [add]?”
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