Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Concordian, Vol. LXXVIIII, No. 6

I haven't discussed Concord's student newspaper, The Concordian very in-depth in a while, so I figured now would be the time to do it.

For those who don't know, I was a staff member of The Concordian for 4 1/2 years. From 2004-2008, then the fall semester of 2009, I was on the staff. I held just about every position possible on the staff at one point, ultimately becoming Editor-in-Chief of the paper for the 2007-2008 academic year.

The paper is very near & dear to my heart, as I believe it is essential that the students of Concord are kept informed of what's happening. The newspaper is a great bridge between the students and the administration, as stories about each group can inform the other group. It's a great way for students to keep up with what the Student Government Association is doing, without having to attend weekly meetings. A strong newspaper is essential.

I was a huge critic of last year's paper. And somewhat of a critic of the current paper. Of course, my sharpest criticisms were saved for myself, as I don't believe I did my job well enough for the students of Concord.

My criticisms of the paper aren't nearly as harsh now, due to the fact that The Concordian is settling into its new identity. To be honest, The Concordian is not where you go anymore for breaking news on campus. They don't cover the SGA very well, they don't look for much scandal, they don't "dig deep."

And, that's okay. A newspaper doesn't have to be all "hard news." A fun, feature-filled paper is perfectly acceptable. That's what The Concordian is now. It's a fun 8 pages to pass the time with.

My biggest problem with last year's paper is that they were still trying to present themselves as a "hard news" periodical. They would cover some of the stuff, but not all of it. Students were expecting stories about the SGA and the controversy with President Aloia and all the VP firings and whatnot. They'd get a little bit of that, and then when they'd pick up the paper looking for more, they would find an article about how to brew tea.

There's nothing wrong with interesting features and human-relations pieces, but not when people are expecting front-page, breaking news. If last year's staff had just said, "We're focusing less on this and more on this," I would have had a lot less problems with the paper then. Instead, it just came off as a half-assed attempt to cover "everything."

This year's paper has settled into a nice groove. This week's front page has a good article how important internships are, a reminder about the "Roth Memorial Scholarship," a picture of the winners of a Concordian-sponsored Valentine's Day Contest, and a couple pictures of the snow and a message about the loss of class time.

It's nice to look at and easy to navigate. That's about all I can ask for. There's nothing "breaking" or "important" on the front page, but it's interesting to read and I enjoyed every article in the paper.

Here's a sampling of what I read in this week's edition -

Internships - opportunity for students to get their foot in the door ... Nice piece written by Svilen Trifinov. The headline says everything you need to know about this one.

Weekly Dose of A&E: John Mayer ... Jessica Fowler's column this week focuses on John Mayer's controversial Playboy interview. She's looking at the comments he made about several of his ex-girlfriends, including Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston. She leaves out the part where used the "N-word," which I blogged about earlier in the week (click here for that).

Students beware of meal plans ... This is a letter to the editor from a freshman girl who thought that the amount of "flex dollars" she received was per month, not semester. To put it bluntly, this girl might be stupid.

Snow, snow go away - Amanda Lee writes about how the break from school due to the snow initially started out as fun, but eventually got dull and boring. She's become one of the more consistently good writers on the opinions page this semester.

Snow days are quickly becoming hazardous ... Svilen is back with some tips on how to drive in the snow. I also think he makes a joke about wearing condoms in his last sentence.

Grabbing Concord by the Balls ... This week's sports section was leaps and bounds above the previous editions that I've seen. The stupid comedy was kept to a minimun, and this week's edition of Kurtis White's column was no exception. It was actually well-written and interesting this week.

Have a Spring Fling? Or help Haiti? ... Kristina Rustemeyer has perhaps the first mention of the Student Government Association in the newspaper in months. It brings up the point I've been blogging about for weeks - the Spring Fling/Haiti deal. Click here to see the last blog I did on the subject. The only flaw with this article is that it may not have enough background information. If you don't know much about the SGA or read my blog, the article may be a little confusing.

Those are the more interesting pieces in The Concordian for this week. If you can't get access to a hard-copy newspaper, you can always read the paper online at http://cunewspaper.com/. Here's a useless trivia question to tell your friends - who came up with the name cunewspaper.com? Yep, me.

After we had signed the contract with the website company, but before we had an actual website, I created a MySpace page for the newspaper to serve as an online presence. Nobody's updated it in a long time; I picked out the current background over 2 years ago. If you want to see some pictures of me and others on the staff from 2-4 years ago, check out http://myspace.com/concordian.

* * *

For those wondering why I'm not blogging about the Student Government Association's meeting this week, that's because there was no meeting this week. It was canceled for the second week in a row. I'll be blogging about that soon. Until then, here are some tweets I sent out when I learned of the cancellation (All are from me, except for one from Mike Mann):

Sitting in Concord's library. The @CU_SGA meeting was canceled. I'd have known if they did more than put up a sign on campus...

I found out that an e-mail was sent out through the student list-serve, but I'm not a student, so I don't get the e-mails...

This brings up the problems with transparency I mentioned in a previous blog - http://tinyurl.com/yfxyc39

It would have been so easy to mention the closing on Facebook or Twitter, something college-age students check a lot more than their e-mail.

Here's the blog where I discuss the transparency issues w/ the @CU_SGA - http://tinyurl.com/yfxyc39 - guess I'll be writing an update soon.

(Mike Mann) @chris_slater it was on bill's facebook..

@SigTauGod Bill's only one person. It gets lost in the clutter of the news feed. There needs to be an "sga group" or something like that.

The @CU_SGA could learn a lesson from @wvusga - the twitter feed for WVU's student government.

Facebook instant message w/ SGA President - he asked the adminstration to send out a text message about meeting. They refused.

9 comments:

  1. There was no breaking news this week which is why we went with John David Smith's letter about classes due to inclement weather.
    We did attempt to get information about why the V.P.'s were fired but were not given very valuable information (they can say what they want to say... they are at will employees).
    However, I do understand your frustration with students not wanting to dig for news.

    As for SGA coverage: Nobody wants to attend meetings and I can't really force them to attend.

    Ms. Mullins

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  2. Chris, I'll take this time to comment on a number of different things.

    First, the Concordian as a whole and its advisors have never fully embraced the concept of student journalism. Many of the writers, editors and so forth (yourself and others clearly included) have believed strongly in it, but have only gotten limited support. I say this because I've read the Concordian for years and because I used to be a staff writer and opinions editor as you well know. As soon as an advisor and the staff take the investigative portion of journalism seriously, the Concordian will be the talk of the town again. Until then? The laughingstock.

    As for transparency in the Student Government Association I agree with you that this administration hasn't been very good at that. I would go a step further in saying this administration hasn't been very good at anything however. I think President Yeager is a strong student advocate and deeply believes in the work he is doing, but I don't believe his cabinet feels the same (if they do they have a funny way of showing it!). Aside from the library hours, this administration has accomplished almost nothing for students. For as many people who called for the lynching of President Prince, he accomplished his agenda.

    If the Yeager administration wants to have any sort of legacy of success it needs to reorganize its efforts, reform its style and set out a clear agenda to be accomplished in the time remaining in the year. It's one thing to be accomplishing a lot but have a difficult time informing people, and its another to accomplish so little and keep everyone out of the loop.

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  3. Curtis Kearns,

    I strongly believe in "student journalism" and that is why I have allowed the students to write about what they want to write about each week. I could force them to write stories that don't matter to them but what joy would they get from it or out of it. There isn't much support from administration for getting "touch answers" because they don't feel that they should have to answer to students. (This also could be fixed if there was support for a Journalism department.)

    As for support- you are correct there isn't much support for "journalism" as a whole right now. One of the departments (English or Communications) needs to take hold of the journalism side of things and a journalism major needs to be created. Until then I fear it will not taken be taken seriously.

    What I can say is that my staff of 10-12 is creating a 6-8 page paper each week without your help! If you want to send some things in feel free to do so as we'd love to hear your opinions.
    What would you like us to investigate?

    Instead of calling the paper a "the laughing stock", why don't you try offering support. Why didn't you stay on the staff and be a leader to make it better?

    Ms. Mullins
    Instructor of Communications
    Former SGA Senator
    Former Student (and writer for the Concordian)

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  4. "tough answers" was what i meant above
    typing error

    ReplyDelete
  5. To address a couple things brought up here:

    "I have allowed the students to write about what they want to write about each week. I could force them to write stories that don't matter to them but what joy would they get from it or out of it."

    To really be comprehensive, you can't pick & choose the news. If I only wrote about things that interested me, I never would have written stories about Homecoming, Greek Week, or football. I also wouldn't have attended that interest meeting for an all-black sorority. They wound up never following through with that, and that's 2 hours of my life I can never get back.

    The joy I got out of those stories was knowing that somebody cared about it. Because I sat through "Greek Sing" and took pictures of it, somebody enjoyed it. Somebody enjoyed reading my interview with the Homecoming King.

    That's just me, though.

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  6. About the journalism major idea:

    I don't know if having a journalism major will really change things. I think the Adminstration just needs to get behind the entire Comm. Arts department better, and that would in turn allow the journalism aspect of that (along with PR & theater) to get more support.

    Also, I think local high schools need to have better journalism programs as well. I got interested in journalsim in the 10th grade, and followed through with that. After I graduated from Princeton High in 04, they got rid of the journalism program for a few years. If more support would be given to it at that level, maybe another freshman with a similar outlook to my own would join the Concordian staff one day.

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  7. I think I've been pretty positive about the newspaper in this blog. If anybody feels like I've portrayed a negative slant on how I feel about the paper, let me know. I do, however, have one HUGE complaint with the newspaper - there are WAY TOO MANY stories about "corn hole tournaments" in the paper:

    http://media.www.cunewspaper.com/media/storage/paper1397/news/2010/02/17/StudentLife/Officiating.Class.Hosts.Corn.Hole.Tournament.In.Student.Center.Ballroom-3873143.shtml

    It seems like there's one in the paper every couple weeks or so...

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  8. Chris,

    My logic was if that we had Journalism housed under one major or another (Communications or English) then maybe we could get more full-time faculty and support for students interested in journalism. However, I do agree with your thoughts on local high schools. When it comes to local high schools it seems that journalism isn't given support at that level either in this area. You are correct that to really be comprehensive you can't pick and choose the news but you can pick stories from the list of news stories(created by editors like you)that you want to write about each week and usually those are stories that the students think are important to all students.Also, I have asked that students get out of their comfort zone and write for atleast 4 sections of the paper each semester. As far as corn hole there are either alot of people loving it or there are too many tournaments.

    Ms. Mullins

    p.s. I have some ideas for the paper... Keep reading!

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  9. Corn hole is pretty popular around these parts, which does warrant a few stories.

    Check out the Cornhole Song -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io8X4pz_QJ0

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