The Charlatan

"The Charlatan" is a student newspaper at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.

It is published by a not-for-profit corporation, Charlatan Publications Inc., and is independent of student governments and university administration. Papers are free, and are available in news-stands both on and off campus. It is published weekly during the fall and winter semesters, and monthly during the summer. The current editor-in-chief is Chris Hannay.


"The Carleton": 1945-1971

Originally called "the Carleton", the paper's first issue appeared on November 28, 1945, the same year that the young Carleton College's School of Journalism was formed. Only four issues appeared in the first year, but by 1948 it was a regular weekly.

The paper's first office was in the Student Union Building on First Avenue, but when Carleton relocated to its new Rideau River campus, "the Carleton" moved to a basement-level office below Paterson Hall. When Carleton's student centre, or University Centre, was built in 1970, "the Carleton" moved to the fifth floor of that building, where it remains today.

Citing a desire to have a more fun, pranksterish image in keeping with the political spirit of the times, editor-in-chief Phil Kinsman encouraged changing the name to "the Charlatan". This became the paper's official name after a staff referendum in March 1971.

"The Charlatan": 1971-present

Since its founding, the paper had been owned and administered by Carleton's undergraduate student government. Editors and the Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA) had several disputes over funding and editorial policy throughout the early 1970s, and to mediate these conflicts the two sides created a Joint Publishing Board in 1975. The joint board consisted of two representatives each from CUSA and "the Charlatan", who appointed an independent fifth person, usually the university ombudsman, as chairman.

After further editorial clashes with CUSA in the 1980s, "the Charlatan" began to lobby for its autonomy from CUSA. This was achieved by a vote of 1,013-457 in a campus-wide referendum in March 1988, followed by the incorporation of Charlatan Publications Inc.

The paper celebrated its 60th anniversary in September 2005.

How the paper is run

"The Charlatan" reports on campus news as well as national events affecting students. Any Carleton student can volunteer, or seek election for one of about 10 part-time editorial positions or the full-time position of editor-in-chief. Editors are elected by staff every spring and hold their positions for one academic year.

The newspaper has several different sections: News, National, Perspectives, Features, Op-Ed, Arts and Sports.

The paper is funded by advertising and by an annual, non-refundable levy of $5.67 per undergraduate. These funds are administered by an elected board of directors, comprised of:
*five students-at-large, who do not contribute to the paper and are elected at the corporation's AGM;
*two representatives elected by contributing staff;
*two professional representatives, at least one of whom must be a practicing journalist not on Carleton's faculty, and the other of whom may be a faculty member;
*the editor-in-chief, whose membership on the board is "ex officio" only.

The powers of the board and the editorial staff are defined in a written constitution. Generally speaking, the board is not allowed to intervene in editorial policy unless there are legal issues involved.


Many of "the Charlatan's" alumni have gone on to be renowned journalists. Three of the former directors of Carleton's School of Journalism — T. Joseph Scanlon, Stuart Adam and Peter Johansen — are "Charlatan" alumni, as are several other members of the school's current faculty.

Notable alumni include:

*Paul Couvrette, photographer
*Bob Cox, Winnipeg Free Press editor-in-chief
*Lydia Dotto, science journalist and author
*Dian Duthie, CBC TV anchor
*Greg Ip, Wall Street Journal reporter
*Warren Kinsella, National Post media columnist and former aide to prime minister Jean Chrétien
*James Orr, film director and screenwriter
*Sasa Petricic, CBC TV correspondent
*Jacquie McNish, Globe and Mail business reporter
*Matthew Sekeres, Globe and Mail sports writer
*Chris Wattie, National Post reporter
*Mark MacKinnon, Globe and Mail foreign correspondent
*Dave Ebner, Globe and Mail/Report on Business , Calgary bureau
*Chinta Puxley, Canadian Press Queen's Park bureau


"The Charlatan" competes (usually in a friendly manner, though not exclusively) with "the Resin", a student-run newspaper for residence students. Carleton's engineering society also has its own newspaper, "the Iron Times".

Over the years, Carleton has supported several other campus newspapers, including "the CUSA Update", published by CUSA for a short time after "the Charlatan's" incorporation in 1988. None of these competitors have survived to the present day.


Over the years, some students, particularly those affiliated with or supportive of CUSA, have been very critical of "the Charlatan". One CUSA president organized a public debate on this subject in 1983, with criticisms including: it was accused of covering trivial topics at the expense of issues important to students, and was error-prone and sometimes had to retract or issue corrections concerning student-run bodies.

Students not-supportive of CUSA have been critical as well, citing that "the Charlatan" has changed articles or played up or down quotes and events in order give a more positive image to the student council.

In addition to letters to the editor, students have expressed their criticisms of "the Charlatan" in VoiceBox, a regular feature in which the paper publishes anonymous comments left by students on a voice-mail account. This feature however, does not exclusively run criticisms of the Charlatan, but includes many other issues voiced by students, not always pertaining to subjects of a serious nature. In rare instances, critics have resorted to newspaper vandalism and theft, the most recent major instance of which was in March 2000, when 6,000 copies of a single issue were taken.

In early 2006, two referendum questions asking for an increase in "the Charlatan"'s per-student levy were defeated, by votes of 2276-1350 and 1926-1600 respectively. [ source] Critics of "the Charlatan" have pointed to these results as evidence of general dissatisfaction or apathy with the paper. Other increases in student levies also have a history of being defeated.

In recent years, "the Charlatan" has put forth a strong effort to gain readership and improve the paper as a whole, though its past reputation continues to affect how students view "the Charlatan".


*"The Charlatan", ISSN 0315-1859.
*Evan Annett, "You Charlatans" (Charlatan Publications Inc., 2005).
*Blair Neatby and Don McEown, "Creating Carleton: The Shaping of a University" (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002)
*John Lorinc, "Two-thirds approve of free Charlatan," "The Charlatan", March 24, 1988, p. 3.

External links

* [ "The Charlatan"] official site
* [ Carleton University] official site

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