The Future of the Venerable Yearbook

Embracing New Technology, New Ways of Doing Business

By Susan Smith
South Dakota State University

While the college yearbook may no longer be published on many campuses, other schools are still publishing yearbooks as they embrace new technology and ways of doing business.

In the last 18 years, the number of college yearbooks printed in the United States dropped from about 2,400 in 1995 to about 1,000 today, according to a 2010 National Public Radio story.

“No definitive list exists of all of the books out there now, much less how that compares to any point in the past (or how they’re funded),” said Lori Brooks, convention chair for the College Media Association who has chaired CMA yearbook committees. “It’s information I hope we can start tracking at some point soon.” Continue reading “The Future of the Venerable Yearbook”

South Dakota State University Students Resurrect Yearbook

Jackrabbit finds new life on campus

By Susan Smith
South Dakota State University

In 2002, the students’ association at South Dakota State University eliminated its Jackrabbit Yearbook. Interest in the book had declined. Fewer people were working on the staff, and boxes of the free publication were left unclaimed by the student body.

Vanessa Dykhouse (left), Editor Paul Dybedahl

In 2012, that same group sought out an editor to bring it back. Vanessa Dykhouse, a senator from the university’s arts and sciences college, answered the call and began planning to bring the book back to life. Dykhouse found an adviser, negotiated a print contract with the school’s print lab and began recruiting staff. A small but dedicated group of students spent two nights a week in the lower level of the SDSU student union putting out the book – with no funding and little journalism experience. But it had the support of the university community. The Collegian, SDSU’s independent, student-run newspaper, allowed the yearbook to use its office and computers to produce the book. The newspaper and radio adviser, Susan Smith, became the yearbook’s adviser. The Union’s Information Exchange front desk and the University Bookstore helped the group sell books. Continue reading “South Dakota State University Students Resurrect Yearbook”

Adapting to the changing media landscape

The Story of The Blue Banner

By Sonya DiPalma and Michael E. Gouge
University of North Carolina at Asheville

Abstract: This paper chronicles the obstacles encountered by the advisor and staff of a small college newspaper attempting to make the paradigm shift from a traditional weekly college newspaper to a multiplatform system. The traditional college print newspaper runs the risk of becoming antiquated as more young adults seek news from digital and social media platforms (Hubbard 2011; Beaujon 2012; The demographic 2012). Within this case study, the authors discuss the growing need for academic departments to abandon “silos” within mass communication in order to embrace the multiplatform approach to reporting and the strategic use of social networks to attract a college audience. While college students embrace social networks as the primary fountain of knowledge, the adviser and staff question how best to achieve a social identity for their college newspaper.


For generations, working on the college newspaper was a training ground for aspiring journalists and editors. The skills learned on campus translated directly to entry-level positions that graduates enthusiastically filled. Cuts in newsroom staff have meant increased opportunities for college interns who often find themselves in the role of teacher for less technology savvy reporters (Thornton 2011).  Increasingly newspapers seek interns possessing web and multimedia skills as well as strong writing skills (Wenger 2011). Keeping pace with the dramatic changes experienced in newsrooms across the country presents a challenge for college newspapers, particularly college newspapers at small colleges. Continue reading “Adapting to the changing media landscape”

College newspapers: Not just for journalism students

The culture of student media at specialty schools

By Jessica Clary
Savannah College of Art and Design

Illustration by Barry Lee
Illustration by Barry Lee

College student media groups are an integral part of the university experience at every school, and students have many reasons for getting involved. Whether it’s for career experience, or just for fun, students from all different majors and programs come together through student newspapers, magazines, radio stations and more. But what about students at colleges where journalism isn’t a major? What about specialty colleges, like art schools?

While some students going to art colleges to escape certain parts of the university experience (sports, Greek life or something else), plenty don’t want to give up any of the activities and opportunities available at larger universities. Student media programs at art colleges are thriving across the country, and while some students involved may never use their student media experience in their pursuit of their dream career, plenty will, and have. Continue reading “College newspapers: Not just for journalism students”

Diversifying your student media department

Why you should recruit non-communications majors for campus media, and how to get started

By Allison Bennett Dyche
Assistant Director of Student Media, Savannah College of Art and Design

Maybe your university doesn’t have anything resembling a journalism department. Or maybe you do, but those students are historically lazy and impossible to recruit and retain on staff for more than a year.

You don’t have to wait around for your journalism/communications/writing majors to get to their senior year, realize they don’t have a portfolio and are staring down the barrel of an impending graduation to join your staff out of desperation. So how do you convince students from other majors to not only see the value in student media, but to believe enough in what you do to actually become part of your staff?

Amanda Permenter Garlow was recruited for the newspaper staff by her freshman orientation adviser at Georgia Southern University. The double major in English and writing & linguistics ended up holding three section editor positions at the campus newspaper, The George-Anne, and serving as editor-in-chief of it for two years before she graduated in 2005. Continue reading “Diversifying your student media department”

Social Editing: Using Facebook groups to improve news content

Exploring the social media site as a collaborative tool

By Lindsey Wotanis, Ph.D.
Marywood University

Facebook. It’s a social phenomenon and even an obsession for some, particularly among young people. An estimated 48 percent of adults between 18 and 34 check Facebook when they wake up, with 28 percent doing so before even getting out of bed, according to Facebook Statistics, Stats & Facts For 2011 | Digital Buzz Blog.

Afton Fonzo, social media editor, and Justin Wahy, multimedia editor, review content requests during a Wood Word editorial meeting. (Photo: Lindsey Wotanis)
Afton Fonzo, social media editor, and Justin Wahy, multimedia editor, review content requests during a Wood Word editorial meeting. (Photo: Lindsey Wotanis)

In 2011, the Pew Internet and American Life project reported that 86 percent of undergraduates were using social networks.  In classrooms and dorm rooms across the country, students are updating statuses, “liking” photos, and accepting invitations to the next Friday night party.

And, almost as soon as Facebook started gaining popularity, researchers began studying the impact its use among undergraduates would have on things like academic performance.  Studies like this one at The Ohio State University report that students who use Facebook tend to have lower GPAs and spend less time studying.

But it’s not all bad news. After all, at least we know where students’ attentions are. They’re on Facebook, and as they say, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”



Doing Social Justice Journalism

Why social justice journalism?

By Jeff Jeske
Guilford College

Social justice reporting has distinguished American journalism nearly from its beginnings. Noted practitioners have included William Lloyd Garrison (civil rights), Dorothy Day (poverty), Nelly Bly (asylum conditions), Ida Tarbell (worker’s rights), Upton Sinclair (factories), and later, Rachel Carson (environment), Jessica Mitford (prisons) and William Greider (globalization’s effects on workers).

As the “fourth estate,” journalism has long played a watchdog role with respect to government’s legislative, executive and judicial branches. Should it not also explore the human cost of government policies? Certainly journalism has rich potential for such work.
Continue reading “Doing Social Justice Journalism”

Tarleton State students lead coverage in national story

Collegians cover “American Sniper” murders

By Sarah Maben

When a former Navy SEAL sniper and his vet friend are shot in your proverbial backyard, you hope the student journalists will mobilize to cover the going-to-go national story and forgo that Super Bowl party.

TNSsnipercoverage(1)“All of our reporters are at church” is how Sunday morning began when Texan News Service adviser Dan Malone called my house. The news conference about the murder of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield was scheduled for 2 p.m., and we were eager to help students with the unfolding story.

Continue reading “Tarleton State students lead coverage in national story”