The first issue of the Navigator was released October 16, 1969. (Technically, yes, that is only 49 years ago, however, the Navigator is currently in its 50th volume, which makes this year our 50 year anniversary). Since then, much about the Navigator, and the university it represents, have changed.
The Navigator was originally the student newspaper of Malaspina College, Vancouver Island University’s official title in 1969. The school later became Malaspina University College in 1995, and then Vancouver Island University in 2008. The Navigator was formed as “The Navigator Newspaper Society,” under the BC Societies Act. This designation allows the Navigator to operate as a nonprofit and receive a share of student fees from the Student Union. These fees go towards covering print costs, paying contributors a small stipend for their work, and paying Navigator staff to ensure the publication continues. All VIU students are members of The Navigator Newspaper Society simply for being enrolled at VIU.
Various topics have been covered throughout the Navigator’s history. The first issue was mainly concerned with student protests, opinion articles, sports, and even one article titled, “How the Student Should Behave.” Since that time, the Navigator has published articles on topics such as science, political opinion, university news, sports, local arts, advice columns, sometimes salacious sex columns like “The Nav-a-Sutra,” and even once published an article that detailed the salaries of all VIU admin, faculty, and staff. The Navigator has faced trouble in being primarily student-run. At a few points during the history of the Navigator, senior staff members left without anyone to take over, and the paper nearly collapsed but was saved time and time again by students passionate about the publication.
Before finding its current home in the VIU Student Union building, the Navigator offices were held in what has been described as a small “wooden hut, probably built in the second world war,” by a former Navigator staffer. He believes the office was once used as a woodworking shop by the university.
Producing the Navigator was an arduous process before the advent of modern graphic design technology. Graphic designers would block out sections of the paper for ads, stories, and photos on a flat sheet. This was known as the paste up method. The flats made were then driven to the printing press, where they were photographed, and the photographic film was used to make print copies of the layout. Nowadays, the Navigator is laid out using Adobe InDesign, and those files are sent directly to the printer.
Production days at the Navigator have always been a mix of a work meeting and a friendly gathering. Staff members bond through the editorial process, sharing laughs, concerns, and stress while consuming startling amounts of coffee. A bulk of the editing is done prior to the production day, which is typically held on Sundays. However, articles still go through three rounds of editing on production days. Production days usually last about six to seven hours, barring any major hiccups, which—of course—never happen, (often).
For 48 volumes, the Navigator was a traditional newspaper. Last year, the Navigator transformed into what you see today: a smaller magazine format with a focus on student content. We’ve stayed true to our roots as a newspaper by keeping journalism as a core part of our lineup, however, we’ve also opened up our submission guidelines to include fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and visual arts. The Navigator has always been a platform that strives to provide Vancouver Island University students with publishing opportunities, and there has never been a better time to work with us. And, since we have a new, smaller format, we’re adopting a new, smaller name as well. Call us The Nav.