The Importance of College Publications
Before I set foot into my first college class, one of the speakers at a presentation for prospective communication students at Marist said that college publications are the perfect place for students to make mistakes. When students are asked about their school newspaper, common complaints are that the articles are not up to professional standards, there are too many factual or grammatical errors, or that they simply are not interesting enough. However, that is good thing.
Hyper-localized news is one of the best resources for an individual and their community. Sites like Patch ensure that the news of every geographic location is covered. College publications do this on a smaller scale, expressing the school’s culture and student concerns. Even if you are not a journalism student, even if your major is not writing-intensive, being involved with your school’s publications can be an integral part of your college experience. For students in the process of choosing a school, publications often have an online component that can give you an idea of a prospective school’s culture. During your college visits, try to pick up a copy of every school’s newspaper; they are often distributed for free throughout campus.
For Rose, sophomore journalism major at Marist College who frequently writes for The Circle, the school’s main newspaper, campus publications are one of the most important aspects of student life. Marist is a small liberal arts school with only about 5,000 undergrads, but students produce a wide variety of publications on subjects that interest them. Rose is also an editor for The Mosaic, a creative magazine that mainly takes artwork, creative nonfiction, and short stories. “It’s really good for students to have an outlet for creative pieces as well as informative ones,” said Rose regarding her position at The Mosaic. She said that school newspapers and TV programs were one of the most important factors in her college choice. Although she is interested in broadcast journalism rather than print, she says that being involved in print publications makes her a better-rounded writer and student. Her most recent article for The Circle was on how to cook on a college budget, but the paper covers most of the events and trends on campus including new construction, recent movies and music, events, and recently, sexual health. The budget is available to any student who elects to be sent the emails, and the paper is circulated around campus.
At Marist, a magazine called The Generator emerged as a response to student dissatisfaction with The Circle’s publishing constraints. The magazine focuses on arts and entertainment in an editorial format rather than hard news. Joe, a sophomore English major said, “I like writing for The Generator because of how open the format is. It’s a publication that will run almost any story, no problem.” This relatively informal, student-run organization facilitates all types of creativity and is open to content that the main newspaper does not want to publish or cannot find space for. Campus media like The Generator facilitates future growth in the media as a whole. If students are not happy with their school’s newspaper or other publications, they have the power to change it in a way that they don’t have with say, the New York Times. If college students can identify what is wrong with mainstream media, they will be better equipped to adapt to issues in the real-world media field. Regarding The Generator, Joe continued, “When I leave college, I doubt that I will ever again find such a magazine to work for.”
College publications allow students to echo the larger media field and build their writing, speaking, and reporting skills. In addition to writing for formal publications, college students worldwide are creating their own personal blogs and tweeting at exponential rates. The media-centric culture we live in means that understanding of these concepts is crucial to employment after graduation as well as networking while still in college, even if you are not going into a mass communication field. So make your mistakes while you still can afford to, and try your hand at writing for a school publication.
Image courtesy of the Harvard Crimson.