When I came to Carnegie Mellon almost three years ago, I came in hopes of advancing myself. That isn’t to say that I came looking to change myself, but I did want to progress toward being a different, more prepared individual when it came time to seek employment.
Now, in the process of completing my junior year, I realize that change is perhaps a more prevalent factor than I originally thought. And I now agree with famed American historian and Pittsburgh native Henry Steele Commager when he said, “Change does not necessarily assure progress, but progress implacably requires change.”
At the risk of being redundant, I’m a fan of change. Not radical change, mind you, but slow and steady change that alters objects, perceptions, and institutions over time, much like the process of evolution. In many ways, humans are encouraged to constantly better themselves, mostly through education and employment. And while going to college or getting a job certainly isn’t an upheaval of all things familiar, people definitely evolve as a result of having new experiences.
And here’s where I reel you in by saying that newspapers are at the root of all human existence.
Not really, but in many aspects, one could consider producing a newspaper much like having a child. By saying this, I don’t mean to degrade the experience mothers have by comparing their children to a publication. Of course, there is no physical pain involved with producing a newspaper, aside from a nasty paper cut every now and then. And, most evidently, we aren’t giving another human being life.
But a well-thought-out newspaper has a gestation period of its own. Throughout the week, our editors decide what stories to write and how the newspaper should be designed. A newspaper also requires a lot of money to keep it thriving, not to mention a dedicated family to see it flourish.
When produced well, a newspaper can “speak” to people as much as any flesh-and-blood individual can. To some readers, what a newspaper has to say could be a lot more important to them than what their friends have to say.
And as I continue to produce the newspaper after almost two years on staff, there’s both a sense of accomplishment, and a feeling of nervousness. Like a parent leaving his child for his or her first day of school, I worry, can it make the grade? Will all of the kids like it?
Newspapers don’t always play in a friendly sandbox. Today, a college newspaper faces the challenge of addressing a visually-based audience bombarded with “shinier,” more colorful things by much larger media outlets like The New York Times and Newsweek.
Eventually, newspapers may find that the websites they’ve been producing on the side will become their primary outlet for content.
So where does The Tartan fit in? For starters, our campus has a fantastic mixture of talented scientists, writers, engineers, business men and women, and performers. My goal is to make our news accessible to students and professors of all concentrations.
Furthermore, Carnegie Mellon is notorious for being primarily electronically based. This means that when people want their news, they prefer to read it on a computer monitor than on paper. We have to make our current award-winning website even better. The Tartan may print weekly, but we are planning to start offering online exclusives throughout the week.
By instituting these changes, The Tartan will, hopefully, mature. And after celebrating its 100th birthday this year, I think it’s time.