Media partnership to elevate student voices

A new partnership between Western and Alternatives Media, one of the country’s leading environmental publishers, will offer students a powerful channel for environment-based reporting and storytelling – all with an eye toward changing the world.

“There is no better incubator for ideas and inspiration than being on campus,” said David McConnachie, Alternatives Journal publisher. “Here, you have young, passionate minds dedicated to changing the world. They are saying, ‘Get the heck out of the way. We have a better way. We got this.’ That excites us. We see the magic.”

Kitchener-based Alternatives Media publishes A\J – or Alternatives Journalan independent Canadian national environmental magazine that has published what it brands “intelligent and informed environmental journalism” since 1971. The media group also recently launched its newest digital platform, ENV Media.

Under the five-year partnership, Western Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES) students will staff an A/J editorial office locally to provide content for the print and digital outlets.

Currently, 10 CES-based students have received training in fact-checking, storytelling and general editorial tasks. These students will constitute the editorial office supervised and coordinated by Stephan Vachon, CES Acting Director.

“This partnership gives students the opportunity to not only express themselves, but offer real solutions,” Vachon said. “Additionally, these students gain valuable skills in environmental journalism and, more importantly, develop an expertise in either a topic, an industry or a type of environmental management. That way, a member of the office can position himself/herself in the job market with some added value.”

The partnership allows the entire campus community to submit their work. For example, an undergrad student with a promising story idea “can have a face-to-face meeting with a member of the student editorial office and get the paper out in a more timely fashion,” Vachon said.

Beyond campus, stories will also be drawn from the larger community as CES reaches out to partners across London.

The partnership draws on other avenues of collaboration, including jointly developing teaching materials like case studies that can be used in Western classrooms or by A\J staffers in their outreach initiatives. A\J’s network of partners will also aid CES in further experiential-learning and internship opportunities.