This is the fourth post in a series intended to help you draft or improve your student media staff’s publications manual. Posts in this series will run on Wednesdays throughout the summer. The posts’ titles will start with “Pub Manual 101″ and include the Pub Manual 101 logo.
When I began helping editors form their first student publications manual, one of the things that seemed mandatory for us to include was the history of student media at our school.
A small, private, liberal arts university like ours doesn’t have a lot of authors documenting university history.
To my knowledge, the history of student media at our school never was formally documented before the publications manual. We wanted the Pub Manual to include a record of the history and changes in our student media. I recommend your publications manual does the same.
The Pub Manual
The Pub Manual hasn’t always existed, so it seemed important that we include a brief explanation of how it came to be. This actually is in the forward of our publication manual, but it easily could fit in the history section. Ours reads:
Work on the Oklahoma City University Student Publications Manual began in Fall 2004 in the Newspaper Administration class.
The manual was formed in an effort to establish a defined set of rules for the Student Publications staff and consistent style for all university Student Publications–The Campus, the student newspaper; The Constellation, the student yearbook; and The Campus online, the online version of the student newspaper.
The decision to create the manual was made to inform staffers of the guidelines for working for Student Publications, establish consistency among publications and become a helpful educational tool for future students. Not only will staffers learn to use the manual, but they will revise it annually.”
The yearbook is one of three publications created annually by our Student Publications staff.
The yearbook at our university has bounced around between departments until it found its home in ours for the last decade.
We also have a copy of every yearbook published in the Newsroom.
Below is the history we wrote for our yearbook. You’ll note that is has been updated since the Pub Manual was formed, as have many of the history sections when major changes occur.
The yearbook dates back further than the naming of the university as Oklahoma City University. It was first published as The Scarab in 1923 when the university was Oklahoma City College. Since 1924, when the university was renamed, the yearbook has been published in a variety of university departments and under an assortment of names.
For the majority of its existence the OCU yearbook has been published by the mass communications department and has been a student-produced publication. University Relations and the Office of Student Life also have published it.
It was The Keshena from 1947 to 2002.
No yearbook was published from 1973 to 1980, and again in 1999. In 1999, the first student-produced magazine, @2501, was published in place of the yearbook. The magazine was published for one year before the yearbook returned in 2001.
The yearbook was renamed The Constellation in 2002. Students in the university’s Office of Student Life published it that year. Officials thought the change was necessary because of the university’s mascot change from the Chiefs to the Stars in 1999.
The publication returned to the mass communications department in 2003. The following year, the book became a spring publication and a CD-ROM component was added. The supplement became a DVD for the 2006-07 book, and included original music and videos from students. Students in the broadcasting track planned and implemented the DVD videos under the direction of the Student Publications multimedia editor.
For the 2005-06 academic year, the yearbook staff was integrated into a general Student Publications staff. This streamlined the publishing process and allowed all campus student publications to share equipment and resources. All publications also were moved under the direction of the same faculty adviser.
A special event was hosted on the quad for distribution of the 2005-06 yearbook. It was the first time in at least 10 years that all of the books were distributed. The event, hosted by the Media Relations and Events Management class, had to end an hour early because all of the books were gone. The carnival-like event was based on the yearbook’s theme, “OCU 101,” and began an annual tradition for the staff.
In 2007-08 the yearbook editor position was terminated to make way for one editor-in-chief in charge of all Student Publications. Sherri Greenwood was the last yearbook editor of The Constellation during the 2006-07 academic year. Nathan Altadonna was Student Publication’s first editor-in-chief during the 2007-08 academic year. It was the year of the first full-color yearbook.
In Fall 2008, the DVD component was moved in-house under the direction of the director of student publications.
Budget restraints during the 2011-12 academic year resulted in the yearbook’s DVD supplement being canceled indefinitely. The same budget cuts caused the staff to shrink the size of the book to 8.5 x 11 and cancel portraits for that edition. Individual portraits returned in the 2012-13 book, but were moved in-house. The book remained the smaller size.”
The newspaper is the oldest publication at our university. It traditionally has been housed in our department. It’s history is:
The Oklahoma City University student newspaper began publishing in 1907. Like the yearbook, the student newspaper also has been published in various places under a variety of names.
The newspaper originally was published in the English department, later moving to the Mass Communications department, where it remains.
The publication began as a monthly magazine before becoming a four-page weekly magazine in Fall 1907. It had an irregular procession until 1923. Since then, the paper has experienced a continuous run.
It has been published under the names The Campus, The Windup, The Epworthian, and The Rambler before permanently becoming The Campus.
The paper went daily in 1966 and remained that way for two years. In 1969 it went biweekly and returned to a weekly publication in 1970.
The paper was printed on university-owned presses until the early 1970s. Since then it has been printed by local commercial printing companies.
The newspaper staff considered renaming the paper during the university’s centennial year, but decided The Campus was the best name and should remain. The newspaper was, however, redesigned during that academic year, and the administration building was removed from the flag. The paper also changed from a Friday to Wednesday publication that year.
For the 2005-06 academic year the newspaper staff was integrated into a general Student Publications staff. This helped streamline the process of campus student media and resulted in all student publications sharing equipment and resources.
The Campus celebrated its centennial during the 2006-07 academic year. The Student Publications staff published a special centennial edition in April 2007. The staff also served a large birthday cake during lunch in the cafeteria in Tom and Brenda McDaniel University Center.
Students in the Newspaper Administration class in the Mass Communications Department redesigned The Campus again during Spring 2010. The redesign included a more modernized flag, font changes and a smaller, longer printing web.
The Campus published 29 issues (14 in the fall; 15 in the spring) each academic year from at least 2003-2010. Due to universitywide budget cuts, the newspaper published 27 issues during the 2010-11 academic year, and each year since.”
The student media website also originated in our department. Here is its history, which I don’t think has been documented anywhere other than the Pub Manual:
Oklahoma City University’s student newspaper website was created and launched in 2004 to enhance the print version of the student newspaper, The Campus. It was named The Campus online.
Mass communications students in the Electronic News Gathering and Reporting course designed the site as a semester project. They were Kelly Burk, Sherri Greenwood, Saima Manzoor, and Diana Tejada.
The students designed and implemented the site under the guidance of Kenna Griffin, visiting instructor of mass communications and Student Publications director.
The creation of the site coincided with the university’s centennial celebration, and propelled the student newspaper into the electronic news era. The site officially launched Dec. 8, 2004. Shortly after its launch the site crashed and was no longer operational.
The site came back online in January 2007. After gathering information, Student Publications editors decided to use Boston-based College Publisher as a content manager for the site. College Publisher partners with more than 450 student publications nationwide. Since 1999, it has grown into the largest network of student publications in the nation.
Layout Editor Erin McAnear designed the new flag for the website. Multimedia Editor Tiffany Jensen coordinated the site upgrade. The relaunched site included weather, message boards and polls. Broadcasting students also posted several podcasts on the site during the 2006-07 academic year. By Fall 2008, students were adding video components to the site under the direction of Web Editor Alaina Stevens and Multimedia Editor Clancey Cleveland.
The Student Publications staff canceled their contract with College Publisher in Fall 2010, becoming solely responsible for the website’s management. Amanda Alfanos, editor-in-chief, approved the change and was responsible for its oversight. During the same semester, the staff redesigned and renamed the publication in an attempt to distinguish it from the printed version of the newspaper. It was renamed MediaOCU.com. Assistant Layout Editor Nathan Hatcher redesigned the new flag for the website. Students continued adding video components to the site under the direction of Multimedia Editor Corbin Hosler.
The MediaOCU app launched during the 2012-13 academic year.
The Student Publications staff updates the site daily during the academic year and weekly during university breaks.”
This history of the student publications staff as a unit also is documented in the Pub Manual. It reads:
Oklahoma City University’s three student media outlets–the yearbook, newspaper and website–joined together in 2005 to create one Student Publications staff. The purpose of the merger was to streamline the publications process. The merger combined the small staffs to make one large staff to produce all of the publications. Each publication still had a dedicated editor, who was a voting member of the editorial board, until Fall 2007 when the yearbook editor position was dissolved and the publications began being overseen by a single editor-in-chief with a staff of assistant editors. A community manager position was added for the first time in Fall 2013. The position was under the direction of Susannah Waite, editor-in-chief.”
The advisory board
This is a good place to document any oversight of your student media staff. Ours was set up because of a grant. Other universities have publication boards that include students, faculty and administrators. Our advisory board history reads:
The Student Publications Advisory Board was formed in 2003. The board is an oversight committee developed as a result of the Mass Communications department receiving $250,000 from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation to improve the quality and ethical standards of the university’s print journalism program. The board’s purpose is to monitor the student newspaper and yearbook in terms of ethics, quality and impact. The board consists of the editorial team, three working media professionals and the director of Student Publications. The board receives copies of all Student Publications throughout the academic year. Board members also make themselves available to answer questions or act as resources in the field for staffers and/or the director of Student Publications on an as-needed basis. The board also meets once during the academic year for an update on Student Publications progress.”
Those are the subsections in the history section of our publications manual. The university’s amazing archivist was essential in assisting the students in the research necessary to draft this section, which is reviewed for necessary updates each academic year.
There is one thing I wish the history section included that it does not. You’ll note that we included the names of specific staffers and/or editors when major changes were made. However, I wish we had a chronological list of at least all of the editors-in-chief and advisers, perhaps even all of the editorial boards. Perhaps that’s something we could put together this academic year. If you’re forming a publication manual now, I recommend you include such a list.
I hope this post helps you in documenting the history of your own student media. Because we file copies of the publications manual in the provost’s office and the library each academic year, it is the official university record for our staff. I encourage you to use your publications manual as such as well.
Let’s Talk Nerdy!
Is there an important aspect of publication history your staff documents that we’ve left out? What should be included in the history section? I would love for you to share your advice and examples from your own publication manuals.