Adaptability and diversity fuel Clemson’s student publications
“Print media is dead,” or so goes the saying, but you wouldn’t know it to look at Clemson University.
Student publications here are not just surviving the media age, with its 24-hour news cycle and social media, but thriving. The four major student publications on campus, even in a tumultuous time for print media, have experienced a rise in demand.
And this demand doesn’t come only from one area or for one type of publication. Clemson’s student publications each serve a unique function and add to the larger conversation taking place between students and disciplines at Clemson.
Jackie Alexander, Clemson’s associate director for student media, attributes this rise largely to the growth of Clemson itself, saying, “There’s so much happening on campus, and that’s really reflected in the level of vibrancy and activity in our student press. And as the University grows, it’s our hope that these publications will grow as well.”
And they have grown.
The Tiger, Clemson’s oldest publication, has gone out of print and been revived more than once through the years. But in today’s social-media age, The Tiger has momentously changed from a weekly to a twice-weekly publication. So despite the heralded death of print media, The Tiger has experienced an increase in demand and responded.
Editor-in-chief Katie Flessas attributes this to the changing climate of media: “We needed to compete with things like Facebook, Buzzfeed and Twitter. Today, people want their news faster, and we think we’re in a great position to do that.”
In addition to this, they’ve increased their presence online, growing their readership and their influence. Summarily, Alexander notes that “students felt that a Top 20 school deserved a newspaper that was issued twice a week and that was a presence not just on campus but online as well.”
The Tiger isn’t an anomaly.
The Tiger Town Observer has recently reinvigorated and rebranded itself. The publication, which displays opinions on topics ranging from politics to university life, is also responding to increased demand and a more saturated news market. Alexander notes that, “The entire publication has been re-envisioned to be more than just the conservative journal of record, but more as a touchstone of political thought and discourse on campus.”
Editor Sam Reinis claims, “We really wanted to be more of an alternative voice on campus. Our goal is to make the magazine more readable by finding not simply writers, but students who have something to say.” Part of these changes includes moving toward printing monthly, rather than two or three times a semester.
If The Tiger Town Observer proves that students’ opinions are as varied as the students themselves, it as well proves that students will fight to have those opinions heard.
The Chronicle, a magazine centered on the printed arts, has also faced its share of struggles. But after undergoing radical rebranding and a relentless campaign for growth, it has experienced an explosion in popularity. Now it receives more submissions, has a larger staff and is more widely circulated than ever before.
Emily Mattison, The Chronicle’s editor, attributes this growth largely to the methods of the magazine itself. “To grow, we would scour professors in the art and English departments to find submissions. We would also choose a theme for each issue early in the process, all with the aim of making the issue more readable and cohesive.”
At a school perhaps known best for engineering or athletics, The Chronicle is a testament not just to students’ love for the humanities, but as well to a campus that is united by more than just a common university. As The Chronicle circulates throughout the colleges at Clemson, its submissions similarly come from students across the disciplines.
“So many different departments have supported us. And the creative talent fostered by Clemson’s professors is the same talent that allows us to exist,” Mattison notes.
And it’s not only the existing publications that are growing.
Students within the political science department are working on establishing a new political magazine, The Pendulum. Still in the early stages of planning production, funding and submissions, The Pendulum hopes to move into print by the end of the semester.
Krista Wunsche, the founder and editor, believes that there is a need for the new magazine, noting, “I think that Clemson students really are more engaged with international relations and world events than people give them credit for. I think their opinions are well thought out and important.”
However, largely in response to the inter-connectedness of the media age, Wunsche stresses that the magazine’s ultimate goal is regional circulation. “We’re hoping to take submissions mostly from Clemson but also from other students at other schools. We want to start a conversation that isn’t limited to one college.”
This growth in student publications testifies to Clemson University’s healthy atmosphere of involvement and activism, as well as to the willingness of its faculty and students to create a culture of intellectual engagement.
“When you work in journalism you constantly get to take the pulse of campus,” Flessas said. “I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s shown me a side of campus I haven’t seen before.”
Fortunately, one doesn’t need to serve as editor of a paper to take the pulse of campus; one simply needs to pick up any one of these publications.
“People consider print media a dying field. The students at Clemson, though, are passionate about it and stick around,” Flessas said.