What’s on the cover?

I’d like to take a minute to pull back the curtain and reveal something that may be somewhat mysterious, but shouldn’t be any big secret. 

While each issue of The Uniter holds, on average, 15 to 20 individual pieces that each get a half to a full page of space, each week we devote a much larger centrefold to one particular story. This story also covers the front of the paper, so it’s obviously pretty special. 

How do we choose what goes on the cover every week? 

The cover features for each semester are scheduled in advance, and are rotated amongst Uniter staff – writers, photographers, editors and more. While most of the other pieces in the paper are relatively short, the feature gives each staff member a chance to dig deeper into something that they care about, and something that we think you might care about too. 

It’s partly a pet project, but it’s also a huge part of our mission, which is to give coverage to people, to communities, to projects and to issues that aren’t being covered elsewhere, or to offer a different take on a familiar story. 

While sometimes the staff and managing editor are bouncing ideas around until our version of the 11th hour, the question of what to put on the cover isn’t made lightly. It represents a commitment on the part of the editorial team and the staff to do justice to a story, to research more, to talk to more people, to take more pictures than we usually would. 

But it can’t end there. 

Once we’ve put a story on the cover, we’re much more involved and informed in the topic, and we also see how much more there is to tell. The work on a cover story rarely ever feels finished, there’s always more to tell, and more keeps happening every day. 

This week we announced an event that, for us, was spurred on by a cover story we did last fall, though we were only just joining in on a conversation that was already happening. The Uniter Speakers Series partnered with Red Rising Magazine to plan an event called Indigenizing Media, which will be held on Feb. 4 at Urban Shaman Gallery (see page 12 for more details on this event). 

This event is a chance for conversations about how stories get told – and whose stories are being told – to move off the page, and we invite you to join in as well, whether you have something to share or whether you want to listen and learn. 

We’re lucky that we don’t have to pick the most sensational story and over-the-top headline to put on the cover because we don’t count on the cover to sell papers (though we would like to inspire future readers to pick one up for free). We want to share stories that matter to our city, and to our readers, so that, in a nutshell, is how we choose what goes on the cover. 

– Anastasia Chipelski

Published in Volume 70, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 21, 2016)