The Collegian — the University’s student-run newspaper — is back in print after a move to a digital format. On December 11, 2018, 250 printed copies of the Upper Iowa University publication were distributed to students, staff and faculty members. The Collegian news staff published and distributed the most recent printed copy in spring 2019.
“Pushing for the print copy has been something I wanted to do since I got this job four-plus years ago,” The Collegian advisor Dr. Matthew Foy said. “As soon as I found out from my department chair, Elissa Wenthe, that it was not only possible but something we were prioritizing, it became a matter of whether the staff wanted to do it.”
An energetic fall 2018 student newsroom took up the challenge to bring The Collegian back in print for the first time since it went digital in 2010. The 2018-19 staff consisted of editor Hazel Lim, a senior year communication studies major from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Jack Beulke, a freshman communication studies major from Wanamingo, Minnesota; Chung Ho Chee, a senior psychology major from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Sze Xin Khoo, a senior psychology major from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Jessica Kron, a junior communication studies major from San Juan Capistrano, California; Ling Sze Hwa, a senior communication major from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Erin McIndoo, a sophomore communications major from Buffalo, Minnesota.
“Bringing The Collegian back in print is definitely the highlight of my experience at UIU,” Lim said. “The Collegian has given me the opportunity to learn much more than I ever could in a classroom. The hands-on journalism experience is invaluable. I’ll always remember the moment I held the first pages in my hands. It’s a success, thanks to our amazing team and of course, Dr. Foy, who has always provided great guidance to us. We couldn’t ask for a better advisor.”
Kron is another example of a student who benefited from her experience with The Collegian’s print edition. Although she had no prior experience in newspaper layout, she learned how to use the software and helped design the recent printed edition of The Collegian.
“I was excited to distribute the paper to the students,” Kron said. “I loved seeing the team’s hard work pay off. I’m so proud of everyone who worked to create such a great product.”
The UIU Collegian newspaper was first established in 1883. It is the oldest continuously running campus newspaper west of the Mississippi. The last print version was a four-page copy published on October 1, 2010. The newsroom had two editors, one co-editor and four staff members, led by faculty adviser Katrina Mcneely Farren. On the second page of the 2010 edition, a column introduced the transition of The Collegian to becoming an online news site. It read: “The Collegian is now online! Starting Friday, October 8, the site will be live and ready for visitors.”
“Returning to print is definitely a step forward for not only The Collegian, but also the University,” UIU archivist Janette Garcia said. “When I want to check the history of the school, the first places I research are either The Collegian or past yearbooks. In terms of historical material, paper can be hundreds of years old, and you will still be able to read it. It doesn’t require any special equipment.”
Garcia noted the words of the first Collegian issue remain clearly readable to this day, 136 years after first being printed.
Foy also explained that printing a physical paper is vital for a college publication to appear legitimate.
“Even in this age in which we get our news online, there’s something powerful in being able to point to a physical, tangible paper,” Foy said. “It feels important even if it’s ultimately destined for the recycling bin, and I think that’s as true for The Collegian as it is for the New York Times. I’ll always be a newspaper guy, or at least a print media guy. I want our students to use The Collegian as a place to document what’s happening in their school and community, and to weigh in on matters of importance to them.”
Looking to expand the newsroom
The Collegian team hopes to continue expanding its staff to enable it to have a fully functional news team. The Collegian introduced its first work-study position in January 2019, and stories are also being written by UIU online students.
“I’d love to see us grow toward a fully staffed newsroom with multiple editors and a bright, vibrant position on Campus,” Foy said. “I can’t and won’t stop trying to recruit folks until The Collegian is something people come to UIU wanting to be involved with.”
While stressing that story and photo submissions are open to all students, staff and faculty members, Foy admitted that recruitment of students is especially challenging because their schedules are loaded in terms of coursework, athletics, jobs and other commitments. In addition, international students are busy adjusting to a new culture and initially can be weary of participating in too many activities, especially one that requires writing.
“My challenge is to convince prospective contributors that being part of The Collegian isn’t just another thing to write,” Foy said. “One of my favorite aspects of my profession is interacting with someone who has an idea and helping them make it happen or make it better. When someone has a story idea or wants to try a different way of covering a familiar story, it brings great joy to me to offer my support to that idea.”
The Collegian’s mission statement is to promote community service and provide students, staff, faculty, family, friends and community members with the latest news on and around Fayette Campus. Eventually, the staff intends for the publication to be a bi-weekly newspaper. The latest edition was printed in April.
“I can’t praise this year’s news staff enough,” Foy said. “They were willing to jump into the print project in relatively short order. I told them, ‘We can do this if you’re ready.’ They took on a new project and all the accompanying challenges and unknowns, and published a good product in a timely fashion.”
Printed issues of The Collegian are available for viewing at HendersonWilder Library at Fayette Campus. Stories continue to be posted to The Collegian Tumblr page at theuiucollegian.tumblr.com and back issues of The Collegian remain available to view at uiucollegian.advantage-preservation.com.