Volume 95, Issue 3

Thursday, June 7, 2001


Convocation overload Goodbye classes, hello life of debt

The Globe's Simpson gets degree

$1 million in beer money for King's 

Forum stripped away

Momma always says: "Strip clubs are a lot like a can of olives"

Med students bring aid to East Africa

The Globe's Simpson gets degree

On Wednesday, The Globe and Mail's national affairs columnist Jeffrey Simpson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws at convocation ceremonies. 

Before his day of honour he sat down with The Gazette to discuss the wacky world of media, politics and the merits of post-secondary education. 

Q. What do you think the employment prospects are for current university graduates?

A. They're a heck of a lot better with a university degree. If I was a [recent] university graduate I'd be counting my lucky stars there is a continued marketplace demand for premium knowledge. The importance of having a degree has increased since I graduated from political science from Queen's in 1971. 

Q. How do you feel about receiving an honorary degree from Western?

A. I was shocked! I was similarly honored by the University of British Columbia. [I thought] they made a mistake which wasn't likely to be repeated by any other university. This honorary degree means even more because my son just completed his first-year at Western.

Q. What prospects do you see for students hoping to get into the field of journalism. How do you see the context of the industry changing over the coming years?

A. It's tough the media tends to go in cycles of expansion and contraction. Right now, it's almost going through both cycles at the same time. There is an explosion of media outlets, including digital and cable channels and we have a relatively brand new national newspaper in The National Post. For a number of years, there was a tremendous hiring binge due to the technical and [content] staff needed when most newspapers created a web-based format. You're seeing some of that fall back now. [Many media outlets] bought and borrowed to own assets they thought would make them rich in the future. The debt many are in will mean squeezing more labour out of existing assets. It's a tough time to be getting into the job market.

Q. Do you think this country can sustain two national newspapers [The National Post and The Globe and Mail]?

A. The evidence so far is that this country can't. Both The Globe and The Post are losing money. It's been great for writers and readers. [Part of the losses] come from The Globe being forced to match the high subscription numbers of The Post. They were giving papers away left, right and centre. We matched them. Both of us produce close to 700,000 copies a day and 170,000 are either given away or sold at cut-throat prices.

Q. What's your take on the current situation in Ottawa? What will it take to develop an effective opposition to the governing Liberals?

A. Uncompetitive politics do not create the best kind of democratic politics. [Liberal dominance] has led to an increased Canadian alienation and [apathy] for participatory politics. Canadians are fundamentally moderate folks the Liberals understand that. The New Democratic Party and the Alliance can't continue crusading on moral ideology, whether left-wing or right-ring. We're a moderate people Canadians aren't going to pay any attention.

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