The Fulcrum has a full-time staff of seven and about 10 regular contributors.
Julie Oliver / Postmedia
Over a decade of student journalism was wiped out early Sunday morning after the website of the award-winning University of Ottawa’s student newspaper, the Fulcrum, was hacked.Editor-in-chief Matt Gergyek got a message about 1 a.m. from another student newspaper warning him that the website had been hacked, leaving only one article — a headline that called the paper an “anti-union rag” and a one sentence article: “uOttawa students news rag the Fulcrum has been cancelled. Bye-bye.”The hacker appeared to be giving the newspaper the finger. The post is accompanied by what appears to be stock art of a man extending his middle finger.Gergyek said the hack has wiped out almost 3,000 articles from the newspaper’s online archives, some going back to 2006. The Fulcrum had a paper edition until last year, when it went online-only. Everything is gone, even the contact page.He sees it as an attack on student journalism.“The Fulcrum is really hurting now. We see the Fulcrum as a running history of student life, how students interact with the administration. We’re concerned about what it will mean to have all those memories erased. It’s a huge blow,” he said.“This is incredibly discouraging,” said Anchal Sharma, the Fulcrum’s previous editor-in-chief. No other student newspapers have reported a similar incident, and the university’s French-language newspaper, La Rotonde, was not affected.“It’s completely unprecedented,” she said.
The University of Ottawa’s Fulcrum website showed no content after a hacking early on June 30, 2019
Meanwhile, the Fulcrum’s web host said most of the lost material may be back within a week. Both Gergyek and Sharma say there are no obvious suspects in the hacking.However, the Fulcrum has chronicled the chaos that engulfed student government last year after auditors were called in to investigate allegations of misuse of funds. In August, the board of administrators of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) voted to call in forensic auditors to look into the funds administered by the student union after the university began withholding transfer payments to the student federation until its concerns are addressed.In November, an audit concluded that the facts didn’t support the fraud allegations over money paid for catering services linked to relatives of student staff that weren’t actually provided. However, auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers recommended the federation have a conflict of interest and procurement policy and appoint a full-time vice-president of finance with an accounting background. In February, a referendum was held to decide whether the SFUO would be reinstated as the official undergraduate student union. The university later announced that another group, the University of Ottawa Students’ Union, would become the official student union.“We published some critical opinions and letters,” Sharma.The Fulcrum has seven full-time staff and abut 10 regular contributors and won the student newspaper of the year award from Canadian University Press last year.One of the most significant concerns for student newspapers across Ontario in September will be whether or not they get financial support from students. Under the province’s Student Choice Initiative announced earlier this year, students can opt out of “incidental fees” charged by universities to support clubs, student societies other programs deemed “non-essential.”ALSO IN THE NEWS:Boswell: A Canada Day two-four of achievements over the last yearYour guide to Canada Day music on the Hill, including The Strumbellas and moreHere’s what’s going on in the capital on Canada Day