Even in an Ever-Evolving Technological Society, The Student Newspaper Stays Strong
“A good paper can add much to the interest of our college life and can be of use in helping along worthy college enterprises.” -C.H. Cooper. March 23, 1926. Number 1, Volume 1 of the student newspaper formerly known as Among Ourselves.
Madison Diemert, senior English major and Anthropology minor, is the current Editor-in-Chief of The Reporter, Minnesota State University, Mankato’s student-run newspaper.
Diemert came to college knowing that she was interested in writing, but she didn’t know what direction she should go. One day, she saw an ad in The Reporter for a staff writer position and took the opportunity to get involved with the newspaper. Since then, Diemert has gained invaluable experience in editing, business and journalism. “I don’t know what I’d be doing right now without The Reporter, I definitely would not be as good of a writer and would not have half the skills that I have today,” she says.
Since 1926, Minnesota State University, Mankato has supported a student-led newspaper, completely dictated by students’ wants and needs. This newspaper has continuously reported on campus related news, people, sports, arts and entertainment. Currently, the newspaper even has sections for horoscopes and comics. Two of its most popular sections are known as “The Pulse,” in which a reporter asks a different weekly question to random students and then spotlights their answers, and “Ask Jenna,” an interactive blog to get readers involved by asking questions.
“You can’t just write about events that are happening on campus because students can hear about that from other students or just go,” Diemert says. “But, if you can put something in like Ask Jenna that is something fresh and new every week that they can’t see anywhere else and that they won’t know the answer to unless they pick up the paper, you’re directly interacting with them and giving them something of value. I think that really increases the pickup rate.” Often times when students are featured, they’ll pick up a copy and encourage their friends and colleagues to as well.
In the last 93 years, the paper has seen many changes, including its name, content and platforms where news is shared. While many aspects of the paper have changed over the years, one thing remains the same: the need for a reliable news source on campus.
Being in the era of misinformation, it begs the age-old question: Why is the news important? Mansoor Ahmad, web editor, copy editor and staff photographer, says that “we need to know what’s happening. Sure, newspapers are a thing of the past, but it’s the concept of having something to rely on to get your news from. News isn’t just news as in politics, but it’s also what’s happening in construction or sports. It’s what professors are getting hired or fired. It’s what the drama is. At the end of the day, it’s just to let people know what’s happening around them, because one way or another it does affect them.”
It's no secret that the way people receive their news has changed. Many people get their daily news from social media now. To keep up with changing times. The Reporter now provides news on different social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; they even have a podcast. “You have to advance with the age, like with the invention of mobile phones and social media. We’re not just relying on the newspaper now to put out news, it’s also social media channels,” says Ahmad.
Although these platforms are important, the staff at The Reporter still finds a lot of value in the physical paper. The pick-up rates are actually up compared to 2017 rates. Last fall, the pick-up rate was 64 percent and, in the spring, the rate increased to 67 percent—proving that people do indeed still read the physical copy.
“I can’t see us as a campus without a campus newspaper. Even if it’s not something that people read or rely on as much on anymore, it’s still this integral part of the university,” Diemert says. “A student-run newspaper gives you so much hands-on experience, that you can’t find in the classroom. I just really can’t see us as a campus without a campus newspaper.”
The experiences that Diemert and Ahmad have received while working for the paper have been invaluable. Ahmad says that he’s been given many opportunities with the newspaper. “I’ve not taken a single mass media class, so everything I’m learning is on the job,” he says. “That’s the best part, because by the time I graduate I’ll have unofficially like two majors: Information Technology and Mass Media, because I’m working so much [on The Reporter].”
The Reporter works closely with The Free Press, a daily newspaper in Mankato, to provide students with workshops to improve their skills and networking opportunities. The Reporter has positions for staff writers, photographers, advertisement representatives and graphic designers, so there is something for everyone.
Since graduating, former students who have worked on The Reporter have gone on to work for Microsoft, Social Butterfly, USA Today, Golf Digest, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Minnesota Vikings. Ahmad was even invited to take photos with an alumnus that are now featured on the NBA website—an opportunity he may not have received without the continuous support of the current and former staff for The Reporter.