Mainstream Media vs Voter Media

4 minutes
Students at the University of British Columbia (UBC) talk about how the Votermedia competition and its voter-funded blogs compete with the established campus newspaper, The Ubyssey. ‘”… does VFM [voter funded media] work for students? I think yes. Does it increase campus discussion and student engagement? I think absolutely. Does it ensure that established media, you know, does a better job? Yeah. And, you know, are students and is this campus better off because of that? Well, absolutely.’” (Justin McElroy, Coordinating Editor, The Ubyssey)


Text page: 

Votermedia (= voter funded media = VFM) provides healthy competition to the University of British Columbia’s established student newspaper, The Ubyssey:

Justin McElroy – Coordinating Editor, The Ubyssey: 

As an editor of the student newspaper which isn’t a part of [votermedia] and relies on student funding from everyone, it’s a way of frankly ensuring that there’s competition out there. 
…I wrote for The Ubyssey in 2006, 2007, and I would always see UBC Insiders, and other blogs be able to deliver the information quicker and faster and with more analysis, about stuff that was happening on campus. Now part of that was and part of it will always be that these people are connected, they’ve been involved with the decisions, they’re right there at the end of the day. But part of it is that simply the established media, the one that students are giving their money to, and are more or less bound to giving, that media wasn’t doing its job, and so competition is always good. It ensures that people do their best, and try to break the stories first, and get that information out there. And from a simple standpoint of, does it ensure that The Ubyssey does a better job meeting the needs of students and getting stories out there, [voter media] ensure that, because it provides accountability to us, simply because if a story’s out there by a [voter media] that’s better than ours before us, we have egg on our face. So, we’re paid way more money, we have way more resources… [Inserts: The Ubyssey 2008-02-05; UBC Insiders – The New SUB Project Architect Presentations: Stantec Architecture / 3XN, 2010-04-12]

Caption: Student funding for media 

The Ubyssey: $180,000/year 
Voter Media: $8,000/year

Andrew Carne – Blogger, UBC Insiders: 

But it’s not just the money. It’s the fact that it, even just the nature of the competition gets people interested, gets people involved and they want to try harder to gain readership, and to write those articles that are actually insightful and interesting.

Kai Green – Blogger, AMS Confidential: 

And one of the major advantages is actually that we’re not held to that, sort of, journalistic neutrality, I mean… [votermedia] provides sort of a voice for these minority viewpoints on campus.

Justin McElroy – Coordinating Editor, The Ubyssey: 

I think the advantage that, as you alluded to that you have is because you don’t have that print version, and simply because you’re free from those boundaries, as that when something happens and when a [voter media] thinks that something is important that needs to be put up there, they can immediately put it up. There isn’t 2 or 3 or 4 layers of red tape and people checking over things, and making sure that this is coming out for print in the correct way, and getting a photo that is just like this, to ensure it comes out. And also, with us that money from students is already there, and we’re mindful of that responsibility, but it also makes us a little bit conservative and cautious about doing things. With [voter media], they can put things out that they believe in, and quickly just get that information to students. And it’s students who decide after the fact, whether they get funded or not and to what degree. And so that gives them freedom and a creativity that a campus paper simply, it’s difficult for them to establish. [Insert: UBC Insiders – BoG Holds Extraordinary Meeting to Pass CUS Fee, 2010-04-12]

Neal Yonson – Blogger, UBC Insiders: 

…one of the cool things that we can do on our blog is be connected, and tell you what’s going to happen before it’s going to happen. As opposed to traditional media which only tells you what happened after it happened. And so that’s a really good way of driving the debate, of saying “Hey, this is coming up. Do you have an opinion on it?” [Insert: Photo by Gerald Deo – Matt Naylor Blogging at AMS Electors Forum, 2009-01-29]

Justin McElroy – Coordinating Editor, The Ubyssey: 

…you have blogs out there right now that can clearly say “We stand for this.” And that these are the issues that we care about, and they can write with a voice and with a passion that you simply won’t find when you have a more broad agenda of covering all issues… 
…the fundamental questions of whether, does [votermedia] work for students? I think yes. Does it increase campus discussion and student engagement? I think absolutely. Does it ensure that established media does a better job? Yeah. And are students and is this campus better off because of that? Well, absolutely.


  • Music: Easy Jam by Kevin MacLeod
  • Video Production: Mark Latham & Irfaan Hafeez. Shot: April-June 2010; Released: September 2011