By Heather Clark
“… they step into them like a hot bath.” – Marshal McLuhan, Canadian professor of literature and culture.
When someone thinks of a newsroom, they often think of a boring office with people sitting at computers or reporters running around like chickens without heads trying to find sources for stories. They think of “All the President’s Men” or “Spotlight” where it’s all seriousness all the time.
Not the Oswegonian.
The Oswegonian is one of three media organizations run by Oswego State students. Along with WTOP-10, the student run television station, and WNYO, the student run radio station, the Oswegonian strives to give Oswego State students and residents in the surrounding area the facts.
The Oswegonian is a not for profit student newspaper that had its beginning in 1935 and has evolved from a simple, weekly newspaper into a weekly digital and print newspaper. Our physical paper has shrunk but is filled to the brim with content including the tabloid “Laker Review.” The Oswegonian has a circulation of 3,000 newspapers delivered all over campus and the Oswego community.
Anything that is in the physical newspaper is also submitted to the website where it can reach a broader community. Also, a newsletter was launched at the beginning of the fall 2016 semester that has the top stories from each section for that week.
There are four sections: News, sports, opinion and arts and entertainment, known as “Laker Review.”
News handles on and off campus related news stories. Sports covers strictly Oswego State spots, no national teams. Opinion and “Laker Review” have campus, national and even international topics discussed.
There is no shortage to what people can write.
The Oswegonian is a product of the mandatory student activity fee from the campus Student Association.
There are all sorts of opportunities for experience available at the Oswegonian.
Section heads and their assistants run their section whether it be news, sports, opinion or “Laker Review.” Copy editors edit the articles and proofs (large prints of what the paper will hopefully look like).
We have photographers and creative directors who make the paper, graphics and photos look beautiful.
On the business end, our business staff makes sure we have everything we need to publish both online and in print each week. They decide how our funds are spent between promotional items (sunglasses, Frisbees, phone wallets, etc.), our social media presence and other office expenses. Our advertising and marketing teams help get funds so we can have extra pages when necessary or even an extra tabloid such as our semesterly Hockey Guide.
Then there’s the managerial positions: Managing editor and editor-in-chief. We run the newspaper and make sure everything is running as close to on time as possible. The staff often tells us we’re like the office parents, constantly keeping the staff on track and focused on what they’re doing.
Staff/contributing writers are the reason we have a paper. They’re the ones who write our content and help us give the community the facts. Writers don’t have to be journalism majors either! Anyone can write for the Oswegonian, as long as they’re an Oswego State student or professor. The only exception to that are the letters to the editor which can be from anyone (Governor Cuomo’s office actually sent one recently in regards to the Excelsior plan, unfortunately it is not online). But stories from all majors have been published. All a writer has to do is send their story to an editor. It’s that simple!
We are a student run organization, but we have to have a faculty adviser. Since the spring 2016 semester Professor Brian Moritz has been our adviser. While the adviser is an important role, Professor Moritz can pitch ideas and critique different aspects of the paper but, in the end, we are a student run newspaper and make the official decisions.
The Oswegonian does not have a printing press on the Oswego State campus. We send the paper to a company that is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They plate and print the paper every week. Typically, they are receiving the paper around 9 or 10 o’clock on a Thursday night and get it to our delivery staff as early as 10 o’clock Friday morning.
At the Oswegonian, independent is the second most important part of our name (number one is “student”). That simple word means the school, administration or Student Association have no say in what we print. We, the staff of students, pick and choose our content. Sure, they can send us advertisements for different events but they cannot control what we put in the paper. We do. The editors. Students. It’s our job.
It sounds like a lot, and it is, but when it really comes down to it, it’s just seeking the truth and reporting it. It’s not too much to ask for. It’s what journalism majors have engraved into their brains when they learn the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics.
In the past at the Oswegonian, we faced our fair share of backlash for not being “diverse enough.”
My first year on staff, a previous editor, who will remain nameless, was interviewed for the national blog and complained that the Oswegonian was a “boys club” and that women had no say in what was going on in the office and that their ideas were shut down.
I can’t tell you how false these accusations were.
Sure, at the time, there were more men involved but the ideas from the women on staff were always taken into consideration.
Now if this disgruntled editor was around for this year, she would have seen that the office is run by women. It’s about a 50-50 split actually with who’s in the office, but all of our chief officers are women.
We don’t discriminate aga
inst anyone. Especially our writers and their topics, more so in the opinion section. Whether it be someone writing about how democrats killed compassion or another person writing about how Hillary Clinton made leaps for feminism, we typically have content that spans all points of view. Even in news! From an on-campus altercations that made headlines to a giraffe going viral, there is no end to what is published in the Oswegonian. Just don’t generalize and we’re all set.
We want our staff writers and photographers to feel comfortable enough to come into the office and hang out or help out in any way they can. No idea is a bad one. We’ve had contributing writers and photographers come in and pitch ideas that were published the following week. For example, one photographer came up with an idea to cover the damage done to the on campus Zip cars and it was on the front page the next week.
Like I said, no idea is a bad one.
Imagine spending almost 10 hours a day in a tiny office with a bunch of people. Welcome to Wednesday and Thursday at the Oswegonian.
Making a weekly paper can be difficult, but it is also a lot of fun. Spending all that time in a confined space, working together has given us all a sense of family.
It has been my second home for the past 2 ½ years.
In the early days of my job at the Gonian some of the editors slept on the newspapers we kept piled in the back. One editor even brought in his own camping cot to sleep on! Yeah, it used to take us that long to put out a paper.
Now, not so much, but the time it used to take to get the paper out now allows us to spend time as a unit and become closer as a workforce family, including potlucks at each other’s houses on weekends and “field days” where we get together and play a bunch of games.
First and foremost, we are a team of journalists seeking the truth and reporting it. But, when it comes down to it, we’re a family too.