A friendly interview between sworn enemies

We spoke with Golden Words’ editors about rivalry and satire on campus

(From left to right) The Golden Words Co-editors Brendan Robson and Sam Goldstein.

Against all odds, Golden Words and The Journal still talk.

Like a lot of estranged siblings, the papers still share quite a bit with each other: a campus, a friendly rivalry and, once a year, a house when Golden Words crashes at The Journal house to put out a “fake Journal” full of satirical news stories.

They even come from the same place — EngSci ran a Journal column called “Steam Shovel” up until 1967 when they struck out on their own to start Golden Words. A few decades, and several accusations of homophobic and sexist content in the 1970s and ‘80s later, their paper is miraculously still running. What started as an exclusive EngSci newspaper morphed into the fake news outlet that runs today, now open to all faculties and contributors.

“You know a very small, quiet part of me wanted to go The Journal,” Golden Words Co-Editor Sam Goldstein said. “But a much louder, angrier, dumber part of me said that’s stupid.”

Well-spoken and reasoned, the humourous paper is an outlet for unfiltered opinion. Content is rarely rejected, unless it’s racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic—or “unfunny.”

“Most of the articles boil down to angry rants once you take out the jokes,” Goldstein said. “Often there’s something to unpack with a Golden Words article.”

His co-editor, Brendan Robson, agrees. According to him, Golden Words is more emotional than articles within The Journal are able to be.

 “Writing a proper news article, it needs to be researched. You need sources. You can’t just make it up if it’s real journalism.”

According to Robson and Goldstein, the key to writing a successful Golden Words article is being ridiculous in a unique way.

This absurdist strain to the paper is at times balanced with satirical takes on student politics. One article responded to a recent AMS election proposal to turn the Underground into a study space with an article proposing to turn Stauffer into a night club.

According to the editors, smaller stories on student politics tend to slip through the cracks, with most Queen’s students only hearing about bigger events. Humour can be an opportunity to a shine a light on the overlooked.

However, the editors consider the paper to be at its best when they’re speaking to a common university experience.

“My funniest articles are [about] things that go wrong in every university students’ lives, with a lot more swearing and absurdity,” Robson said.  “The best satire is stuff everyone has experience with, laid bare through humour.”

This credo led the paper to publish how-tos on floor-cest and articles like “Open Course Enrollment Selection On Solus to Be Replaced By Natural Selection”.

Despite its relatability, the paper’s place on campus can sometimes come into question— its recent history has seen some financial complications over AMS votes on the paper’s fees.

“I think people like us,” Goldstein said. “It’s tough with mandatory fees. A couple years ago we failed a referendum to increase the fee and that was just because we didn’t campaign. The thought was ‘who doesn’t like Golden Words?’ It was $2.00 to $2.25 and we were like who cares?”

Differences in price and quality between The Journal and Golden Words aside, Golden Words latermanaged to secure its mandatory fee, ensuring floor-cest jokes for future generations of first years with poor judgement and raging hormones.

And that’s a good thing for the editors. According to Goldstein, Golden Words can do something The Journal can’t—besides provide floor-cest jokes.

“The news is the most important thing but it’s restrictive,” Goldstein said. “Once you take out the real part of news, that’s no longer an issue and you can just do whatever you want.”

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