Just The Facts, Ma’am: Working for Glendon’s Newspaper, Pro Tem (A 4-Year Review)

So you know how various academic and career advisors have been telling you to get involved in extracurricular activities since ten minutes before you were born?

I used to not care. I wasn’t involved in any clubs in elementary school, and in high school, while I was co-President of the Art Club for my final years, I was mostly there because it was a place to hang out with my friends after classes were over. I figured it was a waste of my time to go get involved in someone else’s project when I had so many of my own that needed time and attention. The introvert eternal, sniffing dismissively at the notion of extracurriculars in general.

How very wrong I was.

It was the Glendon community that finally convinced me to give extracurriculars a proper chance–with its extensive club list (and a truly mindboggling YorkU club list to match!), I figured I’d have a better shot at making friends if I signed up to something. And there was something that had already caught my eye, way back in March of twelfth grade when I showed up for a Shadow program during March Break–a newspaper stand bearing a singularly sardonic satire issue of Glendon’s newspaper, Pro Tem.

I decided I’d try writing an article or two for them and see how it went. And I never looked back.

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What is Pro Tem?

According to its own website, “Pro Tem est le journal bilingue du Collège Glendon. Fondé en 1962, c’est la première publication étudiante de l’Université York, et le seul journal bilingue de l’Ontario.”

Pro Tem is the Bilingual Newspaper of Glendon College. Founded in 1962, it is York University’s oldest student-run publication, and Ontario’s only bilingual newspaper.

Its primary source of material and its primary interest lies in the Glendon community–the issues that are of concern to everyone who considers themselves a part of the GL family, including students, staff, professors, and so on. We’ve published articles written by students, clubs, Student Affairs, Extended Learning, the Office of the Principal, the director of the Glendon Athletic Club, and more!

It’s a fantastic way for writers to flex their journalist’s muscles–or not. In addition to the five nonfiction sections of the paper (Campus Life, Arts and Entertainment, Metropolis, Issues and Ideas, Health and Wellness), there’s a sixth section named Expressions which is dedicated to all things fiction: poems, short stories, monologues, recipes, illustrations.

It’s also a great way to practice reading and writing your French. Pro Tem strives for 50/50 English-to-French ratio, and while that can be difficult to reach, we’re all committed to upping the level of French-language content with each issue that passes. Help us out and write us a little something to practice–we’ve got a stellar Assistant French Editor who will help edit your piece so it’s polished and professional!

In short, Pro Tem is, in my opinion, one of the best and most rewarding ways to get involved in campus life that there is. You get to hone your writing and editing skills (which will help you out big-time in essay writing), you get to attend events like French-language concerts and the Glendon Symposium for the simple price of your news coverage, you get one heck of a shiny mark on your CV, you get to work with a bunch of likeminded peers on a tangible project, and you get a chance to feel what it’s like to bring genuine value into a community of over 2,500 people.

Interested yet?

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Now Hiring: Positions on Glendon’s Newspaper

Pro Tem has a number of positions, each of which has their own unique set of responsibilities and each of which requires a different set of skills. Having cycled through a fair few, I’m gonna write you a quick review of the ones I’ve held in the past!

  • First Year: Contributor. By far the easiest and least committed of positions–but a position nonetheless, and an indispensable one at that! Something students still ask me is whether they’re “allowed” to submit to Pro Tem. Of course! There’s no special membership process or inside circle that you need to be in to send the paper your work. All you need’s the work itself. You can submit something for every issue, or just once in a whole year. Whether it’s a 300-word comment on the latest Late Night Lunik event or a 900-word essay detailing a global issue that you want to share knowledge of, your work is valuable and wanted by the Pro Tem team.
  • Second year: Assistant English Editor (paid position). Being on the Executive Team means this position comes with a hefty amount of responsibility. Essentially, in the grand scheme of things, you have about two days to read through every article that’s being published in the issue and to edit it for content and for grammar. The good news: it’s already been looked over once by one of the Section Journalists (which I’ll get to in a moment). But if you want to do a thorough job, it is still a significant chunk of your time. You also need to have pretty solid editing skills–or at the least, a mastery of the English language. In the application process, they ask for a sample of your work, so find one or two of your best (fiction or nonfiction) pieces and let fly! (NB: there is an Assistant French Editor as well, so apply for whichever you feel more comfortable in!)
  • Third Year: Expressions Section Journalist (volunteer position). Although my love for editing knows no boundaries, I have never wanted to be a journalist. At heart I’m a fiction writer. Being Section Journalist of Expressions (the aforementioned fiction section of Pro Tem) meant my job was essentially to read a bunch of student-submitted poems and short stories, which you soon find out are really good. Glendon’s got a lot of talent. All Section Journalists are responsible for looking over/editing the articles which are submitted to their sections–they are also largely responsible for recruiting said articles, meaning Section Journalists either encourage Glendon community members to submit articles, or they write their own. Bonus points for Expressions: you have to do very very minimal editing, being that fiction writing is less subject to strict grammar/stylistic rules. (Gotta love creative license!)
  • Fourth Year: Layout Designer (paid position). I love drawing about as much as I love writing–but because of the fact that I’m in university, I do a lot more of one of those things than I do of the other. My choice to apply for Layout Designer was partly to encourage my art, to sort of legitimize it in The Real World, to give me a reason to keep it present in my life. And it’s been a very good choice. How good? After six issues, I’ve got layout down to a science, but the first issue (largely because of the massive rebranding that Pro Tem underwent this year) had to be built from scratch–which meant I spent a whopping fourteen hours straight working on it. Then, I staggered back to residence and collapsed on my bed. Then I got back up seven hours later and immediately went back to the office to finish the issue. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Well, here’s the best part–in the short, brisk walk between my room and the office, I realized I didn’t hate what I was doing. After that much work put in, I was still looking forward to doing more. It does require a more specialized skill set than the other positions (after all, you’re what takes a bunch of edited word documents and turns them into a newspaper), but if you’ve got a portfolio of artwork and some skill with Photoshop and InDesign, then you’ve got a good shot!

All in all, it’s been an amazing experience. My writing has improved, as well as my editing–and so has my time management. My perfectionism has been softened up a bit by the need to know when to just let things go (you face a lot of last-minute crunches in the newspaper business, and you need to learn to be okay with doing an average job sometimes). I’ve met dozens of fascinating people and been able to speak to them one-on-one about their lives and their projects, and I’ve been able to showcase a few of my own projects, be it a poem or an article about asexuality or, this year as layout designer, the very newspaper itself.

But more than that, I’ve had the incredible good fortune to feel that I matter to something. Humans need to feel needed, and my various positions with Pro Tem always felt useful and necessary and appreciated. More than anything else, it’s that feeling of belonging that’s made Pro Tem so very worth it to me.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the team through the website! A lot of the team is graduating this year–perhaps you’ll be so kind as to fill our spots?

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2 thoughts on “Just The Facts, Ma’am: Working for Glendon’s Newspaper, Pro Tem (A 4-Year Review)

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