In face of funding cuts, Golden Words keeps its shine

Satire publication to host Beaverton writing workshop this fall

Image by: Rachel Aiken
Seth Davis and Oren Katz

The Student Choice Initiative (SCI) is no joke to Golden Words editors Seth Davis and Oren Katz. But it’s not going to be the satirical paper’s downfall, either.

In an interview with The Journal, the editors of Golden Words’ 54th volume described changes the long-standing comedy publication is making following the province’s policy, which transitioned its $2 student fee from mandatory to optional.

“When we found out about the SCI, we just thought to ourselves, we have to pivot,” Davis said. “We decided that, in that drop, we had to find our feet somewhere else.”

Although news of the SCI broke in January, Katz said the hammer “dropped” during the summer when the two editors had to begin looking for ways to offset any potential funding losses incurred by students opting out of their fee.

The editors decided to decrease the number of issues Golden Words will release during the 2019-20 year from 25 issues to 20 because of the costliness of print distribution. The paper itself will lose four pages, decreasing from 12 to eight. 

“Something really shitty happened to us, but how can we move forward?” Katz said. 

“We’re not here to wallow in self-pity because we lost a bunch of issues, we’re like, how do we move forward from here, how do we make something out of this?”

The two editors decided to use the time freed up by the lost issues to increase student engagement with Golden Words on campus. 

“Five weeks isn’t a huge deal, but that’s five weeks where writers aren’t coming in, so we needed to find ways of engaging them more,” Davis said.

Davis and Katz started by revamping a dead Instagram account, increasing the paper’s followers from 300 to more than 3,000. The paper also partnered with StudioQ to start recording and producing a podcast.

In November, Golden Words will host writers from The Beaverton—a satirical Canadian news publication—for a satire-writing workshop open to all students.

“Whether or not you’re into comedy writing or satire writing, even getting some sort of workshop with these professional writers who do this day after day is a great opportunity for students to just come and check out,” Davis said.

Katz said for students considering a professional career in comedy, the workshop could help with getting a foot in the door.

“You get a writing workshop and all of a sudden, you’re armed with actual satire,” he said. “Learning from people at The Beaverton, they definitely have a lot to teach us.” 

Davis and Katz hope, ultimately, the workshop will attract more writers to the paper. 

“One of the things that we’ve loved this year and we want to keep going is the diversity of the writing staff,” Davis said.

Founded in 1967, the two editors admitted Golden Words has struggled to include a strong presence of women writers over its five decades of operation.

This year, however, Katz and Davis said there’s been a significant increase in women contributing to the paper. While Golden Words famously uses pseudonyms for their authors, the two editors said the paper is averaging an equal amount of male and female writers so far this year.

“It’s really great to see it happening,” Davis said.

Katz said because the majority of this year’s female staff writers are in first and second year, upward mobility will allow them to become even more involved with Golden Words.

“Down the line, they’re going to end up being the veterans, the people running the paper,” Katz said.

Katz himself started writing for Golden Words in his third year. While he moved to Toronto in his fourth year for an internship, Katz returned to the paper this year as one of its two editors-in-chief.

“I don’t know, absence makes the heart grow fonder,” Katz said. “Before I even came back, I decided I definitely wanted to apply to be editor because you get so many opportunities to try out comedy, brainstorm new ideas.”

Davis, on the other hand, started writing for the paper when he was in his first year. He said when he was in high school, his sister gave him a copy of Golden Words during a visit home from Queen’s.

“She said,  you’d love to write for these guys,” Davis said. “I’ve been writing since first year for almost every issue. It’s been fantastic. It’s how I would define my university career.”

Davis and Katz want more students on campus to have similar experiences with Golden Words.

“We come in every Sunday for ‘pressnite’ and it’s just a good time,” Davis said. “We would welcome everyone to come in and try their hand.”

The two editors stressed Golden Words is open to all students. While Davis is an Engineering student, Katz himself is a member of the Arts and Science faculty.

“Anybody can write for the paper, we don’t have any barriers in any way.” he said. 

Davis said while he and Katz are trying their best to keep Golden Words afloat, they don’t want to set up any future volumes for failure.

“It’s a really fun time to just say we’re a newspaper,” Davis said. “What else can we do?”


Golden Words, Student Choice Initiative

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