Welcome back! We are so excited to write to you for the first (but not the last) time as Editors-in-Chief of The Argus. We have both been staff members since the fall of our first year on campus, and while neither of us envisioned being in this position at that moment, we could not be more excited to helm the publication as campus comes to life again.
The biggest change for The Argus this year is our return to twice-weekly publication, which was the norm before the pandemic—after all, we are the oldest collegiate bi-weekly publication in the nation, with the exception of wartime and pandemics. We made the decision to return to a more frequent publication schedule knowing that it would enable us to give more writers the opportunity to contribute to The Argus and offer more space to tell campus-related stories.
As a complement to our first issue, we want to take some time to inform the campus community about our projects and priorities for the semester. We met with our masthead staff over the summer and throughout a week of training to regroup and prepare for the semester ahead.
One of our major objectives for the summer was a fundraiser to support our student workers: the financial manager, web editor, head copy editors, distribution manager, and layout staff. While we secure funding from the Student Budget Committee (SBC) for printing and website costs, the funds for student workers come from donations alone. We are thrilled to share that our donation campaign was very successful. Thanks to countless donations as well as a donor match, we were able to raise over $8000 and will be able to pay our student workers this semester and into the spring semester.
We also fundraised for the continuation of the Argus Voices Fund, created in the summer of 2020 by former Editors-in-Chief Serena Chow ’21 and Claire Isenegger ’21 as a way to financially support student journalists of color from low-income communities. The Argus’ current unpaid reporting positions pose a barrier and are only realistic for students from more privileged backgrounds, which partially accounts for the overrepresentation of white reporters in student newsrooms. In our first year of offering the fellowship, we were able to support two student fellows. Thanks to donations over the past year, we will be able to maintain the one student who is still currently enrolled and will be adding two more fellows. We are proud to be able to continue this program.
Additionally, last year, we took inspiration from the Minnesota Daily and piloted a coverage tracker to help track the demographics of our sources and work on making our coverage representative of the communities we cover. You can read more about the pilot year of our coverage tracker and view the data on our website. We will continue and expand use of the coverage tracker this year.
We have also held and will continue to hold monthly anti-racist newsroom discussions, which serve to inspire reflection about who is represented in our newsroom, who is represented in our coverage and how, and the culture of our newsroom. These discussions also prompt staff members to engage with educational information about journalism’s racist legacy and anti-racist practices occurring in the field today. We are continuing to work on making these conversations an open and comfortable space where staff and community members can delve into The Argus’ progress and especially our continued shortcomings. We hope to entwine these conversations and themes with our coverage going forward.
We are also continuing our speaker series and mentorship program, both of which aim to add an educational component to the newsroom experience. The speaker series connects students with journalists across different fields and educates staff about the profession and the current state of journalism. The mentorship program provides an informal setting where new Argus staff can meet in a smaller setting with older staff members to learn about the inner workings of The Argus and student journalism on campus.
Finally, we are maintaining our beat system. Through this system, editors and writers on a “beat,” or a specialized area of coverage, meet regularly with those involved in an organization or area to hear about their work and upcoming events. The system was created to institutionalize thorough coverage of campus and Middletown with a focus on establishing lasting relationships with sources. We believe the system personalizes the reporting process and betters our own understanding of what is happening in the communities we are a part of.
We know these initiatives represent a huge undertaking, but one of our priorities this semester is to build on previous projects rather than reinvent the wheel. We are grateful for the work that Editors-in-Chief before us have done, and we want to maintain an institutional memory and ensure this work is ongoing. We also want to make sure we are being transparent with the work we are doing and emphasize quality over quantity, especially as we return to biweekly publication.
Our top priority, however, is to build community and create a space where everyone feels welcome. We hope that anyone who is interested will come to our meetings—for the time being, held on Sundays at 5:00 at the Labyrinth Tent in the Center for the Arts (CFA)—or reach out to either of us.
We can’t wait to see what the year holds!
Emma and Hannah