Working at the Medium

Student Life November 30, 2011 0

Katie Davis, EIC, sports an infamous Medium t-shirt.

The Medium is a weekly satirical publication produced by University students for the entertainment of the student community.

“We have more of a mission to entertain RU,” said Katie Davis, the publication’s editor-in-chief. “We’re trying to raise the standards for creating quality entertainment.”

 The publication, funded by RUSA Allocations and one of the most widely circulated college humor publications in the nation, was originally established in 1970 as the official campus newspaper of Livingston College. The satirical format stemmed from a section of the paper titled, “The Censored Pages”. Now, each Wednesday, the Medium staff releases a blunt, almost-crass — but all the while entertaining publication full of a mix of world/university news satire, features, comics, opinions, and – a student favorite – the Personals (student-generated commentary about events, occurrings, and sightings on campus).

“We’re using professional programs and developing journalism skills,” Davis said. “We’re just as much a part of the print industry as any other publication.”

Below, managing and Personals editor, Kenneth Brooks, speaks of his time at The Medium.

By Kenneth Brooks, managing editor

When I first started with the The Medium, I was a bit scared because I didn’t think I would be able to be as funny as other writers. After my first article was published I felt a lot more comfortable writing, but because I didn’t understand how to “do” news parody, I stuck to the Opinions section for most of that first semester.

It was a surprise when I was elected as Personals editor. Regardless, I spent my summer looking over old issues to get a more in-depth feel for what I would be doing and I came in at the beginning of the fall semester ready to learn how to make my page. I took on the alias Dr. K., my “Personals Personality” for the year.

Brooks looks over pages during Medium production.

An easy part of managing Personals is that our readers generate most of the content, so we don’t have much to do other than add commentary and format the page. But it’s challenging since it is relatively difficult to read the Personals and always come up with a witty, mean, or sarcastic response to satisfy our audience. It’s hard to judge personals because we don’t like to be “too offensive”, yet as an organization we are opposed to censoring students’ rights to free speech.

Aside from being Personals editor, the best experience I had was taking over as Webmaster and making the website more “Web 2.0-ish”. My mission was to integrate Facebook and other social media with the print publication and to add individual articles online. This allowed for us to have stats for who reads what — a feature that is hard to maintain with just a physical newspaper.

When I started, I was doing it for fun. But because of the various things I did, like making pages, building the website and preparing video features, I gained a lot of experience. When elected to the role of managing editor, I was given a sense of organizational leadership and management.

As managing editor, I supervise the production process. Production runs on Sunday and Monday of the week. As each page is completed, it is reviewed by our Copy Editor, Managing Editor, and Editor-in-Chief for grammatical and layout errors. Once all is good, it’s off to the printer for its Wednesday morning release.

On Monday nights, Day 2 of production, I come in to assist with any additional content — like Photoshop images and articles. I also manage technical problems as they come up. At the end of the night, the copy editor, editor-in-chief and I give the paper a final review and put it into one file for printing. On Wednesdays, the editor-in-chief and I preside over the general meeting as well as discuss business, problems, and coming events. We then thoroughly review the paper as a group — commenting on articles and pointing out formatting errors. After that, we go through pitches for the next issue.

As far as involvement, any student can join The Medium, but we appeal to people with a more adult sense of humor. However, we’ve had members with different beliefs of what is funny and what is not funny and we don’t criticize them for that. After reviewing our issue, you can see that we try to cater to a variety of tastes.

In the recent years, our target has been trying to get more people on board to help with The Medium so that it is all not just on writers and editors. We now have more artists on staff to draw cartoons. We are looking for people with experience in Photoshop, website building, and people involved with performing arts (acting, videography, singing, etc.) for our online features.

The Medium, originally the official newspaper of Livingston College (which is still weird to image), began running only satire articles after the Daily Targum expanded to cover all campus news. Later, the publication became more controversial. As a proponent of free speech, the paper pushed the limits of what it could publish —from targeting the Rutgers administration, to publishing obscene materials such as pornography and politically incorrect content.  The paper came under fire many times seen as “racist” and after one particular controversial cover story, “anti-Semitic”.

This, of course, is not the paper that we run today. Around 2007, the paper began to phase out its shock value and challenging of the First Amendment. The editorial staff, at a certain point, acknowledged was no point in pushing. In Rutgers’ defense, it DID NOT attempt to ban the organization from holding true to the University’s belief in democracy and free speech. What DID happen was that many students and staff had become fed up with the paper and the content. So after years of transforming, phasing out much of the irrelevant content, it has become something that we feel many people can enjoy. There are some jokes and articles that still push the freedom of speech, yet we have other content for people to enjoy as well, and readers have gradually re-accepted us.

Despite feeling awkward at first, I found that The Medium is a very open organization that allows anyone to contribute. No matter how people choose to involve themselves, they have a support system of editors to help them improve their writing.

To find out more about The Medium, visit rutgersmedium.com.

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