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Reflecting on 100 years of The Collegian

Published: March 6, 2014, 2:20 am ET
Contributor

Well, this is it. After nearly 99 and a half years of printing, The Collegian as we know it is ending. Starting after spring break, this publication will move completely online. Ernest Hemingway, my favorite journalist, said, “A writer’s job is to tell the truth,” and so I will, but I won’t do it alone. In this article, I’ve collected the thoughts and feelings of past Collegian staffers on what’s happening to the student newspaper they worked so hard on, and I hope to show the spectrum of reactions that every change in life can bring.

Among the responses from alumni, a common theme was nostalgia for how it felt to print a real newspaper. “Emotionally, I think something is lost by getting rid of the paper edition, especially for future journalism students,” said Katie Masterson, former editor in chief from the mid-1990s. There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing your article on the front page of the paper. Is seeing how many shares or clicks your article gets the same?”

Tom Lappas, former sports editor and publisher of the Henrico Citizen, an internship spot for many University of Richmond journalism students, said he had mixed emotions. “Print is what I grew up on. There’s always been something about pouring yourself into an issue for a week and then being able to hold the results in your hand.”

“Late Wednesday nights and early Thursday mornings in the Collegian office – though sometimes painful – were some of my fondest memories,” said Dan Petty, who, as former online editor, helped create our current website. “You’ll have to work hard to ensure that camaraderie remains strong.”

Several faculty and staff members I’ve talked to on campus, along with longtime subscribers, have expressed sadness at the end of the print edition. They said they would miss being able to pick up a newspaper on campus or receive it in the mail.

My predecessors as opinions editor both agreed, however, that the decision was the right move. “Hot news is old news if it isn’t a click away,” said Katie Toussaint, the current managing editor of Society Charlotte. “I think it’s probably a good idea considering most papers are going that way, and it will free up some money to revamp the website,” said Abby Kloppenburg, now a research associate in Arlington, Va.

Reilly Moore discussed how the issues that he faced as editor-in-chief would no longer burden future Collegian staffers. “Selling print ads, finding someone to distribute the paper and cutting costs – all of these challenges are eliminated with the switch to online-only.”

“I’ve always appreciated the print edition,” former online editor Andrew Prezioso said. “But I think with all the attention now turning to the site, there’s the potential there to really make it a heck of a news site.”

“Change is always difficult,” former editor-in-chief Maria Rajtik said. Overall, I think I agree most with the thoughts of my favorite journalist, Ernest Hemingway. “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.” The Collegian is turning 100, and it’s not going anywhere.

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