SoS Media: Print is Failing

SoS Media: Print is Failing

The traditional model of advertisement-funded printed newspapers is failing in the journalism realm and here on campus.

Newspapers sit crumpled in a Berkey Hall distribution bin (photo credit: Emily Lawler).

The first level of failure is financial. According to The State News Report on Financial Statements available at their office, The State News’s revenue for 2009 was down $667,686 from the previous year. This is mainly due to a decrease in advertising revenue and rent The State News charges other businesses in their building.

Many professional newspapers are experiencing similarly distressing problems, which prompted the creation of the site http://www.newspaperdeathwatch.com.

“Advertising is no longer a sustainable business model for newspapers.  The costs are falling too fast and they will only continue to fall,” said Paul Gillin, the site’s founder.

When the site started out, Gillin didn’t have many people on his side.

“I started the site because I foresaw a collapse of the news industry years ago and I thought it would be interesting to document the phenomenon.  I tried to get some people in mainstream media interested, but nobody seemed to believe me,” he said.

In 2010, almost everybody believes him. Here in Michigan, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press have been operating under a joint operating agreement just to be financially viable. Despite this, they are struggling, and recently cut down publication to three days per week, essentially giving up their status as daily papers as far as delivery customers are concerned.

The State News Budget for 2009 Total Assets: $6,853,514 (design credit: Dennis Vlahoulis of Spartanedge.)

So why is The State News still functioning? Your tax dollars. In 2009 they made $468,401 in “subscriptions.” Some are paid, yes, but the vast majority comes from the $5 automatically charged to each student every semester. This is essentially assured income, because not many people bother to walk into the office and ask for their money back.

But The State News is increasingly relying on student tax dollars, and students are increasingly  dissatisfied with their coverage.

Earlier this semester, MSU’s Greek community was dissatisfied with The State News’ editorial concerning the Greek system. As covered by Spartanedge, a few Greek members organized to donate the money from their $5 tax return to the Haiti relief efforts.

In addition, The State News is offending people politically. As Michigan Liberal covered, The State News refused tax-paying students entry to their partially tax-funded building. Students used the event as a means to protest their other beefs with The State News. One student explains how they refuse to cover his skateboarding sub-culture, saying, “Fuck that, fuck The State News, I don’t care.”

Another protester points out that The State News is supposed to be the students’ “Independent Voice,” according to their motto.

“We are all students, and we all have a voice, and they are not reporting on it,” said the protester, who was greeted by the crowd’s cheers.

All this dissatisfaction with The State News leaves a hole in media coverage that alternative publications on campus are ready to fill. Next to The State News racks are ING magazine stands — they’ve got good deals in their advertising section and good articles too. Spartan Weekly is a campus publication that can tickle your funny bone. The State News isn’t the only online source of campus media anymore.

Spartanedge covered the Town Hall meeting about tuition hikes hands down better and with more multimedia than any publication on campus. The Big Green covers issues like where feminism stands on campus and minority faiths working around a Christian-centric university. A daily paper cannot provide the same in-depth coverage because of time and space limits.

In terms of successful professional organizations, Gillin says that if Newspapers are the old model, there’s a new one on the way.

“The model is probably best exemplified by Huffington Post, which has a very lean staff and relies mainly on contributions for its content,” he said.

Alternative media is coming much closer to replicating this successful model than The State News.

The more people these publications reach, the more people our hundreds of writers interview, the more people come to our Web sites or pick up our publications. Our Web traffic is increasing, and to an extent we’re feeling the news void The State News has created.

This isn’t only happening at MSU. At Penn State, a blog has usurped most of the established newspaper’s traffic using online collaborative media.

We’re not close to that on this campus, but here is the bottom line: alternative media is here for you. We’re willing to listen to your ideas and tweak our publications to meet your demands. We’re online, we’re adaptive and we want to cover what you want covered — for free. That makes us a valuable news source, and one we hope you’ll take advantage of when you’re looking for news and information on campus.

Editor’s Note: The Big Green and Spartanedge have teamed up, and are writing a series of editorials on the topic “The State of State’s Media.” A similar version of this can be found here at Spartanedge, and other parts of this series are here and here. This editorial is supported by the editorial board of Spartanedge and The Big Green.

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SoS Media: Competition

SoS Media: Competition

Michigan State University is a diverse campus with more than 47,000 people who have different backgrounds, interests and demands when it comes to their news.

Are those demands really being met?

Spartanedge and The Big Green are online publications that contribute to the diversity and vibrancy of campus, and we are greatly concerned by a historic loss of talent to The State News. Spartanedge and The Big Green cover a variety of issues The State News does not adequately represent. We provide a place for writers of magazine-length pieces and producers of innovative multimedia to showcase their abilities and tell the stories of MSU. We don’t see our publications as competition, but the State News is categorizing us as just that, and it’s negatively impacting everyone in the MSU community.

After acquiring our writers and photographers, The State News’ non-competition policy prohibits these students from being a part of multiple and varied publications on campus. We understand it’s impossible for one publication — no matter how many people or how much money it has — to cover everything. That’s where other publications step in to keep the balance of information and enhance the community. By allowing The State News to monopolize the journalism talent at MSU, that balance is lost.

We want to restore the balance, and that’s why we’re openly asking The State News to eliminate their non-competition policy.

Students need to have the freedom to express opinions and communicate ideas – as students, journalists and members of the community. This freedom of expression is a crucial part of the learning experience.

Our contributors learn how to cover varied aspects of university life with a variety of platforms. At The Big Green and Spartanedge, we teach future journalists how to produce and edit photos, graphics, audio and videos for the Web. They could not get all of this experience in one position at The State News. We offer choice and creativity that might be unavailable in a structure like theirs.

Spartanedge and The Big Green consistently contribute to the cycle of information on campus with these varied platforms for storytelling. Since we do not pay our staff and don’t publish daily, we can’t and don’t cover the daily hard news simply because that’s not in our cycle.  In this sense especially, we don’t see either of our publications as competing with The State News. That’s why Spartanedge and The Big Green have collaborated several times.

We recognize the value, as student journalists, of having the maximum amount of published work to show prospective employers. Many internships require proof of such “clips,” and the more publications a candidate has worked with proves their adaptability and diversity of skills. The Big Green and Spartanedge have put on workshops to arm their contributors with the skills necessary to produce quality journalism.

We encourage writers to work for multiple publications and broaden their experience. The Big Green editor-in-chief Emily Lawler has published audio pieces in Spartanedge, and our publications share sophomore Brandon Kirby, who edits the Sex & Health section of The Big Green and the Entertainment & Events section of Spartanedge. He recently earned an internship at City Pulse thanks to his demonstrated ability to produce quality journalism for multiple organizations.

We tried creating an open dialogue with The State News about the issue we have with their policy. When we contacted the editor-in-chief last semester and told her why we were inquiring, she told us their policy does not allow “students to work at or freelance for any competing campus publications or local publications” while employed with The State News. She added they allow “writers to freelance for non-competing publications as long as they have it approved by their desk editor” and the editor-in-chief, but it can be turned down if it is seen as a possible conflict. This semester we contacted the new editor-in-chief, who declined to meet with us.

The policy as both editors have described it seems to be unevenly enforced, as some former writers The Big Green contacted claim that when hired they were asked to drop all association with their previous publications, regardless of topic or section.

A restrictive non-competition policy like the one The State News has isn’t even in practice at publications beyond the campus level. On the surface it is typical, but the atypical part comes in when weekly and monthly publications that focus on multimedia and feature-length writing are considered to compete with a daily newspaper. In their non-competition policy (they call it their Employee Conlflict of Interest Policy) The State News names both the Lansing State Journal and The Big Green as publications their writers cannot publish with. While The Big Green is flattered, it doesn’t consider itself to compare with a professional, daily paper like LSJ.

While Spartanedge is not explicitly named as a competitor, it has clearly been included in the category through other comments that place all campus publications under the umbrella of competition.

Responding to a disclosure of what this editorial would be about, Susan Whitall of The Detroit News said, “In college I think it’s even more important not to limit student journalists from doing things that add to their skill sets.”

MSU Alum Lynn Henning is a sports writer and blogger for The Detroit News and also writes for Hour magazine. There are online examples of his work for The Detroit News and Hour published in April 2008. He clearly wasn’t held back by working for two publications even though they appeal to the same readership. It is the same type of work that can appeal to the same readership base, but it’s presented in a different format and circulated on a different schedule. They make it work at the professional level, so it can work at the campus level.

We would also like to point out that The State News is a corporation explicitly allowed tax rights through the University’s tuition, meaning the University hands The State News money; both Spartanedge and The Big Green are independently funded. Our publications are far more independent than “Michigan State University’s Independent Voice.”

The bottom line is that there has been a negative impact as a result of the transition of writers from independent, student-run groups to the incorporated structure of The State News. In light of all the details, can The State News really claim validity to their non-competition policy? And what role should the University have in this when its Academic Freedom Report claims its basic purposes include “providing the environment most conducive to the many faceted activities of instruction, research and service” … but students are automatically charged $5 on their tuition to support The State News? It doesn’t seem like that money is fostering an environment conducive to supporting students in their learning opportunities.

The State News’ non-competition policy needs to be completely eliminated to comply with University regulations. Simply amending it has not worked in the past and contributors continue to be told that writing for other publications could terminate their employment at The State News.

None of this is an attempt to discredit The State News on any level or create any animosity. We recognize the merits of the publication, and on that same note we feel it is necessary to address what we see as its biggest flaw.

Things need to change.

By allowing journalism students on this campus to learn from multiple organizations, we promote their continued success as MSU graduates. If that’s not the goal of any university community, what is?

Editor’s Note: The Big Green and Spartanedge have teamed up, and are writing a series of editorials on the topic “The State of State’s Media.” A similar version of this can be found here on Spartanedge, and we will be posting the rest of the series soon. This statement is supported by Spartanedge and The Big Green. To see the sections of the Academic Freedom Report (AFR) that support our stance, browse through it for yourself and pay attention to sections 1.2, 1.1, and 6.1.1.

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Sledding Crawl

A sledding crawl sounded like a great idea before we realized East Lansing is flat. The less than mountainous terrain we live on caused our dreams of an ambitious list of sledding hills to dwindle to two spots. But those two spots left everyone but Jordan sledded-out. He claimed he’d be back every weekend.
[sledding1]It looked like we were the only people awake at noon on a cold Sunday morning in East Lansing. We gathered at the Union and caravanned to the first (and best) sledding site, Frandor Hill. Maybe we just made that name up. There were no signs that pointed us to the site, but our seasoned sledding experts and reliable sources pointed us to Marshall Music’s backyard by the Frandor shopping center. Sure enough, we found a surprise of a hill. Compared to other hills in East Lansing, this one is larger than life. Drag your sled to the top and you’ll see the “Sled at your own risk” sign planted in the snow. All of a sudden our sledding crawl got badass.
Our scrounged up sleds and cafeteria trays took us screaming down Frandor Hill. The speed, the out-of-nowhere jumps, the powder in our faces…it all left us exhilarated. And freezing. Some of us decided not to use sleds at all and just throw ourselves down the slope in a silver metallic coat. We sledded it out through the numb hands, stinging cheeks, snow down the pants and the neighborhood kid who greeted us at the top with, “College kids, go away!” It was a wild ride, but on our way down the hill we were left asking ourselves, “Why go anywhere else?” [sledding2]
We went somewhere else anyway. That somewhere was McDonald Middle School on Burcham Road. Our experience there leads me to believe Frandor is the place for sledding and McDonald is the place for somersaults. Backwards somersaults in feet of snow. On a scale of one to 10, Emily and Jordan’s winter gymnastic performance earned a 20. The rest of the time we pretended we still loved sledding. The hill by the school’s baseball field had some definite speed to it, but the slope was nothing compared to Frandor. After a few pity runs, we called it a day. Or at least we thought we did until Katie’s car got stuck in the snow and a man showed up out of nowhere and used a cafeteria tray to dig her out. Apparently we found a snow angel of a different sort.
We call TBG’s First Annual Sledding Crawl a raging success. If you don’t believe us (or even if you do), check out the video footage from the day below.

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Happy New Year, From the Editors

Katie Sulau
Editor-in-Chief [katie]
When it comes to New Years resolutions I can take them or leave them. But since making one has been brought to my attention, it looks like in 2009 I will take them. In the winter months I want to not curse the cold and grey when I walk outside in March and feel the subzero temperatures and the whipping wind lingering. In the summer months I promise to reapply my SPF 50. And throughout every of 2009’s seasons, I’ll be mastering the “Single Ladies” dance.

Amanda Peterka [amanda]
Associate Editor
I stopped making New Year’s resolutions awhile ago. It’s not that I’m afraid I won’t keep them; it’s that if there’s something I want to change, I change it, regardless of if it’s New Year’s or not!

Nicole Nguyen [nicole2]
Associate Editor
My top priority for 2009 is to actually read all of the books I compulsively buy at Barnes and Noble. First on the list: The Enchantress of Florence, by Salman Rushdie.

Laura Martin[laura]
Arts and Culture Editor
Notes to Self for 2009:
1. Stop looking up every cough, pain, and aliment on Web M.D. It’s not a doctor, it’s a website and it will only fuel the hypochondriac lurking inside of you that you pretend doesn’t exist. And although Jeeves does look very professional in his suit, Ask.com is not a medical source either.
2. Stop buying cook books from Barnes and Noble. You already have “The College Guide to Cooking,” “Simple Eating” and “Cooking with under Three Ingredients”, purchasing “Cooking Simple in College With a Few Ingredients” would just be redundant.
3. If you insistent on buying cookbooks, start actually cooking, and microwaving pizza does not count.
4. Stop updating the interests you list on Facebook and actually take the time to enjoy them. You are clearly not too busy to take time out for hobbies or you wouldn’t have time to update your Facebook interests in the first place.

Brigid Kilcoin [brigid]
Global View Editor
My New Year’s resolution is to be more appreciative of the opportunities I have received in my life and the people that surround me, like my friends and family. I also would like to start running on a semi-frequent basis.

Emily Lawler
State Side Editor
[emily]Every year, I break at least one promise to myself. It isn’t just me that exhibits this dishonesty; people all over America come together every January first and vow not to participate in a myriad of activities. No more smoking, overeating, yelling, drinking soda… you name it, and somebody has given it up. I myself have attempted to give up most food groups (one year I wanted to be a fruitarian), a fair amount of habits (nail picking, gum chewing) and one religion (Catholicism). In all cases, I was back to sitting in church picking my nails and eating whatever I pleased within the week.
This year I’m going to cover all of my bases and just resolve to break my own rules whenever possible. Join me?

Jordan Barnes [jor]
Sex and Health Editor
It seems that with everything from buying Christmas presents, to leaving for class, to even (cough, cough) writing this resolution, everything in my life has been left to the last minute.
That’s why my new years resolution this year is to not procrastinate or leave things to the last minute.

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Meet the Press

Katie Sulau:

I hated most things about middle school except for one cold, damp Saturday afternoon that confirmed my allegiance to writing. As part of Wyoming Middle School’s Power of the Pen writing team, I competed in a city-wide competition against countless other gawky twelve-year-olds who appreciated word choice, character development and story structure just as much as I did. At the end of the day I shook out my cramped right hand and took a seat in the auditorium for the awards ceremony. Minutes later I found myself on stage holding a third place trophy. The golden pen and paper sparkled so brightly under the stage lighting that I had to squint through my Coke bottle glasses to get a good look at my name engraved on the square plaque. Never had I found myself basking in such glory because of swimming or dancing, and certainly not because of soccer or a choir solo. I stood on stage, waving furiously to my parents somewhere in the crowd, thinking this whole writing thing, this was something I could do. There was no physical coordination or sense for musical rhythm required. It played to my strengths (and weaknesses) perfectly. Now, as a college senior, I hold steady with my commitment to writing and know that it is just a different type of coordination, timing, and gracefulness that good forms of it require.

Nicole Nguyen:

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, carrying small Moleskine notebooks around with me to record my random ideas. Throughout junior high and high school, I was primarily a fiction writer and eventually shifted into poetry and non-fiction, until I stumbled upon a flyer for my school newspaper. I spent time in every position on staff and I was hooked. Now as a creative writing senior, I still can’t resist participating in journalistic endeavors. I love the impact that journalism can have on a community, and as an editor, I love being able to watch and help writers grow into their voices to create into something powerful. The Big Green has been fantastic to me; we have so many wonderful, passionate writers and I am excited to be a part of this magazine for my senior year.

Amanda Peterka:

To say I’ve always been interested in writing is something of an understatement. But all throughout high school I was convinced I wanted to be an environmental scientist, even while writing short stories on my computer and being editor-in-chief of my school’s yearbook for two years. Somewhere during senior year of high school I decided that I would rather write about the world instead of research it, and somewhere during study abroad in Australia I decided that I wanted to specifically write about the environment. I’ve never looked back since. There’s something about knowing that you give people the information to make change, and in doing so have the power to make change yourself. Journalists are supposed to be objective, I know, but I also know that there are important issues such as the environment that need to be out in the open, and it’s up to us to do that. And The Big Green is a wonderful place to really creatively explore not only global issues in depth, but also the ones that affect us day to day.

Jordan Barnes:

I knew I wanted to be a journalist from a young age when I used to record myself doing radio shows with neighbors pretending I was Danny Bonnaduce on his morning talk show. In high school, my broadcasting and newspaper teachers cemented my love for journalism. It wasn’t until I got to college though that realized I wanted to write for magazines. The Big Green has given me more experience in doing that than I could have hoped for. This year, as Sex & Health editor, I plan to put the “sex” back in this “section” — something it has been lacking for a few years. In May, I’ll graduate from MSU’s School of Journalism and head out into the real world trying to freelance, travel around the world and eventually break into the world of fashion journalism.

Brigid Kilcoin:

I have been writing for my whole life, but my first experience with formal journalism was as a member of my high school newspaper staff, where I edited the Opinions section and spent umpteen hours wrestling with InDesign. After attending MIPA camp here at MSU when I was a sophomore in high school, I became interested in writing in college. My favorite thing about writing is getting to learn about topics that otherwise would have been a mystery to me. When I put together an article, I’m educating both my readers and myself in the process. I love that I get to experience a little of others’ lives by editing the stories in my section. Cultures other than my own and politics are two of my main interests, which is why the Global View section is a good match for me.

Emily Lawler:

I never really had a “defining moment”- one instance in my life during which I decided that I wanted to be a journalist. I didn’t lose my breath and my heart didn’t flutter, but I’m not sure true career-path love is all about that. Even without the butterflies, this is the most sure I’ve ever been about wanting anything.
I turn to good reporting for justice (Kwame?), entertainment, information, and fun. I’m addicted to at least four online news sources, and check them on a daily basis. When my Newsweek arrives (on Tuesdays) I put down everything I’m doing and kick back with columnists who seem like old friends, and features that feel like home.
In any case, The Big Green is one of those publications that has unwittingly captured my heart and mind. Its articles are in depth and entertaining, and I genuinely believe that some of the best writers on campus are right here at TBG. I’m happy to be working with them!

Alec Marsy:

I read Fahrenheit 451 and it scared the bajeezes out of me. I was so terrified of the idea that someone could lie to me that easily. I decided I wanted to be the one telling the truth. Then one day my dad found his .35 mm camera in the basement. It was this cheap Yashika from 1975 that my dad had bought before he was stationed in Germany. It was beat completely to hell, but the camera took fantastic photographs. So, I’ve spent my life since wanting to be like the guys who work for National Geographic. If I get what I want, I’ll be dodging bullets in the Gaza Strip, but as long as I’m helping, I’m happy.

Laura Martin:

Dressed in a smiley face t-shirt and black velvet pants my ten-year-old self surveyed the room of people at my parents’ dinner party. Noticing that my Uncle Bruce was standing alone I marched up to his side, pulled out my pink Lisa Frank notebook, and got down to business. “Uncle Bruce?”, I asked flashing him a sweet smile hoping to convince him to oblige to my game, “Are you ready for your interview?”
Most kids played video games, hide and seek, or capture the flag. I however spent much of the 90’s filling up my notebook with the answers to interview questions like “if you could go back in time what year would you go to?” and “describe your perfect meal.” While a lot has changed since the days of my so called “interviews,” one thing has not.
Today as a journalism senior and Arts and Culture editor of the best online magazine on campus, I am still pretty much the same as my ten-year-old self. Though my questions have improved, one of my favorite activities still involves me with my notebook in hand excitingly anticipating the answers to my questions.
Except this time my notebook’s a lot less sparkly.

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Meet the Press

Katie Sulau:
[sulau3]I hated most things about middle school except for one cold, damp Saturday afternoon that confirmed my allegiance to writing. As part of Wyoming Middle School’s Power of the Pen writing team, I competed in a city-wide competition against countless other gawky twelve-year-olds who appreciated word choice, character development and story structure just as much as I did. At the end of the day I shook out my cramped right hand and took a seat in the auditorium for the awards ceremony. Minutes later I found myself on stage holding a third place trophy. The golden pen and paper sparkled so brightly under the stage lighting that I had to squint through my Coke bottle glasses to get a good look at my name engraved on the square plaque. Never had I found myself basking in such glory because of swimming or dancing, and certainly not because of soccer or a choir solo. I stood on stage, waving furiously to my parents somewhere in the crowd, thinking this whole writing thing, this was something I could do. There was no physical coordination or sense for musical rhythm required. It played to my strengths (and weaknesses) perfectly. Now, as a college senior, I hold steady with my commitment to writing and know that it is just a different type of coordination, timing, and gracefulness that good forms of it require.

Nicole Nguyen:
[nguyen]I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, carrying small Moleskine notebooks around with me to record my random ideas. Throughout junior high and high school, I was primarily a fiction writer and eventually shifted into poetry and non-fiction, until I stumbled upon a flyer for my school newspaper. I spent time in every position on staff and I was hooked. Now as a creative writing senior, I still can’t resist participating in journalistic endeavors. I love the impact that journalism can have on a community, and as an editor, I love being able to watch and help writers grow into their voices to create into something powerful. The Big Green has been fantastic to me; we have so many wonderful, passionate writers and I am excited to be a part of this magazine for my senior year.

Amanda Peterka:
[peterka2]To say I’ve always been interested in writing is something of an understatement. But all throughout high school I was convinced I wanted to be an environmental scientist, even while writing short stories on my computer and being editor-in-chief of my school’s yearbook for two years. Somewhere during senior year of high school I decided that I would rather write about the world instead of research it, and somewhere during study abroad in Australia I decided that I wanted to specifically write about the environment. I’ve never looked back since. There’s something about knowing that you give people the information to make change, and in doing so have the power to make change yourself. Journalists are supposed to be objective, I know, but I also know that there are important issues such as the environment that need to be out in the open, and it’s up to us to do that. And The Big Green is a wonderful place to really creatively explore not only global issues in depth, but also the ones that affect us day to day.

Jordan Barnes:
[barnes1]I knew I wanted to be a journalist from a young age when I used to record myself doing radio shows with neighbors pretending I was Danny Bonnaduce on his morning talk show. In high school, my broadcasting and newspaper teachers cemented my love for journalism. It wasn’t until I got to college though that realized I wanted to write for magazines. The Big Green has given me more experience in doing that than I could have hoped for. This year, as Sex & Health editor, I plan to put the “sex” back in this “section” — something it has been lacking for a few years. In May, I’ll graduate from MSU’s School of Journalism and head out into the real world trying to freelance, travel around the world and eventually break into the world of fashion journalism.

Brigid Kilcoin:
[kilcoin2]I have been writing for my whole life, but my first experience with formal journalism was as a member of my high school newspaper staff, where I edited the Opinions section and spent umpteen hours wrestling with InDesign. After attending MIPA camp here at MSU when I was a sophomore in high school, I became interested in writing in college. My favorite thing about writing is getting to learn about topics that otherwise would have been a mystery to me. When I put together an article, I’m educating both my readers and myself in the process. I love that I get to experience a little of others’ lives by editing the stories in my section. Cultures other than my own and politics are two of my main interests, which is why the Global View section is a good match for me.

Emily Lawler:
[lawler2]I never really had a “defining moment”- one instance in my life during which I decided that I wanted to be a journalist. I didn’t lose my breath and my heart didn’t flutter, but I’m not sure true career-path love is all about that. Even without the butterflies, this is the most sure I’ve ever been about wanting anything.
I turn to good reporting for justice (Kwame?), entertainment, information, and fun. I’m addicted to at least four online news sources, and check them on a daily basis. When my Newsweek arrives (on Tuesdays) I put down everything I’m doing and kick back with columnists who seem like old friends, and features that feel like home.
In any case, The Big Green is one of those publications that has unwittingly captured my heart and mind. Its articles are in depth and entertaining, and I genuinely believe that some of the best writers on campus are right here at TBG. I’m happy to be working with them!

Alec Marsy:
[marsy]I read Fahrenheit 451 and it scared the bajeezes out of me. I was so terrified of the idea that someone could lie to me that easily. I decided I wanted to be the one telling the truth. Then one day my dad found his .35 mm camera in the basement. It was this cheap Yashika from 1975 that my dad had bought before he was stationed in Germany. It was beat completely to hell, but the camera took fantastic photographs. So, I’ve spent my life since wanting to be like the guys who work for National Geographic. If I get what I want, I’ll be dodging bullets in the Gaza Strip, but as long as I’m helping, I’m happy.

Laura Martin:
[martin]Dressed in a smiley face t-shirt and black velvet pants my ten-year-old self surveyed the room of people at my parents’ dinner party. Noticing that my Uncle Bruce was standing alone I marched up to his side, pulled out my pink Lisa Frank notebook, and got down to business. “Uncle Bruce?”, I asked flashing him a sweet smile hoping to convince him to oblige to my game, “Are you ready for your interview?”
Most kids played video games, hide and seek, or capture the flag. I however spent much of the 90’s filling up my notebook with the answers to interview questions like “if you could go back in time what year would you go to?” and “describe your perfect meal.” While a lot has changed since the days of my so called “interviews,” one thing has not.
Today as a journalism senior and Arts and Culture editor of the best online magazine on campus, I am still pretty much the same as my ten-year-old self. Though my questions have improved, one of my favorite activities still involves me with my notebook in hand excitingly anticipating the answers to my questions.
Except this time my notebook’s a lot less sparkly.

Posted in LettersComments (0)

Our Closing Comments

Jessica Sipperley, Editor-in-Chief: I’m having trouble thinking of myself as a TBG alumna, much less one of the university. But despite this internal resistance, my graduation day has come. I will miss being part of the alternative media realm on campus, as I’ve seen TBG expand from a budding weekly magazine to a solid monthly publication. The release of our second print issue is a key mark on my TBG career, as I finally saw the physical evidence that we are indeed becoming a true magazine. The editorial board for next year is capable and creative, and I know I’ll keep reading as a faithful former staff member.
Cara Binder, Associate Editor: When I was a sophomore, I remember walking to the Union for my first TBG meeting. The staff was small and very warm, and I felt at home immediately as I took my seat in the Arts & Culture section. As an A&C staff writer, I fell in love with the section. That year, A&C did a burrito crawl, held a potluck and had a sublime time at Sunday meetings. I knew from that year on that I wanted to continue to be a part of such a talented and completely delightful staff. As Jessica, Kim and I pass off the torch, I know there will be plenty more wide-eyed and eager writers that will find their home at TBG. Have a rockin’ time, and take care of this lovely publication.
Kim Bale, Associate Editor: How do you say goodbye to something you feel like you’re just really getting to know? Three years should be long enough to really become familiar with something, I mean, to the point you could predict its next move; three years just isn’t enough. TBG continues to surprise and excite me with its capabilities and wealth of knowledge, and in turn, so do its contributors. This magazine has been such a great friend to me; it makes me laugh, incites arguments and continues to teach me more than I ever expected to learn. I’m so proud to be a TBG alumna, and cannot wait to stalk the magazine and its wonderful writers and editors for years to come. I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, my favorite college publication you’ll be.
Trisha Poling, State Side Section Editor: I remember the first story I wrote for TBG during my junior year vividly. It was an article about travel and could have come straight out of a newspaper – I am the first to admit it wasn’t all that good. Since then, I have written countless other stories, edited nine issues, been involved in two print issues and attended two launch parties. But what I have gained from TBG is a lot more than the ability to rattle off some statistics. TBG has been an outlet for me to express myself, meet new and interesting people and explore issues on campus and around the world. But most importantly, TBG has given me the courage to find my voice as a writer, a reporter and an editor.
Katie Sulau, Global View Section Editor: My experience with TBG this year has made me appreciate the first of the month even more. Before I knew TBG, the first was a nice change of pace. Now, it means a brand new issue holding a long list of rich stories and colors and graphics that keep me drawn to the computer screen. The newness and excitement certainly fades as the month goes on, but the angles and themes of the stories do not. Sure enough, the first of a new month rolls around and leaves me logging on, double-clicking my heart out. I love TBG for what it has done for my first of the months and the reading material it leaves me with for every day after that. After a summer hiatus, I know I’ll be itching for Sept. 1.
Nicole Nguyen, Arts & Culture Section Editor: When I joined TBG two years ago, I never imagined I would get to work with such wonderful people. The magazine was described to me as simply “online” – but it’s really so much more than that. With TBG, I have learned so much about writing and editing. The experience is so different from anything I could ever learn in a classroom, and I am grateful I have been able to be a part of this staff. This year, working with the many (so many!) Arts and Culture writers and getting to know each person’s interests and strengths has a been a highlight in my TBG career, along with the launch of our second print issue. I am extremely excited about next year and what this staff will do.
Lexi Biasell, Sex & Health Section Editor: I have done a lot with The Big Green. Obviously, it has helped me fine-tune my writing and coaxed my style through its evolution. My eyes are more sensitive to tiny grammatical errors and my brain is trained to find holes where there should be none. But there is definitely more than that. I learned about the history of executions and how the Irish feel about our country borrowing their holiday. TBG also helped me sort through the painful feelings surrounding my father’s cancer diagnosis and treatment and kept me up-to-date with the upcoming election. The magazine is there for me, like a friend, and I know it will continue to evolve without me here. We’ll be in a long-distance relationship, but I assure you, TBG, I’ll visit you to celebrate our anniversary on the first of every month.
Megan Sistachs, Photo Editor: As the school year comes to an end, so does another amazing year with The Big Green. It is so exciting to see the magazine grow and improve as the years go on. As the magazine grows, the articles become diverse and the photography also starts to evolve into more than just regular photography. I’m so impressed at a what a wonderful job our staff did this year and especially with the end of the year print issue. It’s sad having to say goodbye to such a wonderful year, but I am excited to return next year and to continue to watch The Big Green grow with new and old staff members.

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All About Us

From the founding of this country, the news media has been heralded as a means to disseminate information to a multitude of readers. But one newspaper did not do the job for long. Competing publications sprang up as the American borders expanded, both to one-up those other publications and to fulfill the public’s desire for more than one source of news. In the same way, our campus, with its thousands of students and hundreds of faculty members, contains a great variety of opinions and perspectives. One publication, attempting to present news coverage relevant to all of the members of this campus community, would never suffice. This is the niche of alternative media, and this is where The Big Green establishes itself in a frenzied college atmosphere.
The idea for TBG began in early 2002 with the thoughts and dedication of journalism student Beth Desy. From there, TBG emerged in 2003 as a magazine accessible through allmsu.com, that familiar Web site used by students to praise and bash professors, warn others against taking certain courses and sell spare athletic tickets. It is difficult to imagine how TBG could have existed without its own site, and it is likely our increased exposure is directly correlated to our Internet move. Our magazine earned a personal URL in the fall of 2004, and soon transitioned from a weekly publication to a monthly magazine.
Our goals as a publication are extensive, but our first priority lies with our audience. The readers are what make TBG go ’round, and the readers are why we exist. As a staff, we try to put together feature stories that matter, about topics and subjects that might not get the glory from mainstream media coverage. Everybody knows who Drew Neitzel is, but what’s the story behind the intramural facilities on campus? Without top-of-the-line weight rooms and committed trainers, the major athletic teams could not prepare as well for competition. Most students hear about major protests on campus, fueled by strict political views or brimming controversy, but who are the people behind these protests? How does a protest come to fruition? Why do these people burn so passionately about an issue? TBG aims to go behind surface topics and answer questions about deeper issues. An unlimited Internet platform and an editing structure allowing for time and story cultivation enable this to happen.
Now, it is understood every issue of TBG is not going to be ground-breaking. We’re not going to uncover some major campus scandal or unearth a media gem in every issue. But we’re striving to create a credible, multi-faceted magazine, containing feature articles that are compelling, well-written and interesting. The reporters gather the information and work closely with editors; the editors reorganize, stylize and grammar-ize each story. The upper editorial staff polishes the pieces, clarifying and organizing, and then they edit the pieces again. The design staff tops off the pieces with photos and graphics, making each piece visually appealing and attention-catching. Our readership is increasing, and we’re gaining credibility within the campus arena as a legitimate publication with talented writers and motivated editors. But this progress isn’t causing us to plateau…we’re just getting started.

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Contact Us!

At The Big Green, we strive to put together comprehensive, well-written feature stories that spark interest, create debate or just make our readers stop and think about a topic in a slightly different manner and perspective. Our readers are the major vehicle of our magazine’s existence, and the editors want to hear your thoughts. If you need a clarification, have an objection or just find something that tickles your fancy, we want to hear about it. Here are the contact addresses for the 2007-2008 editorial staff…e-mail away!
Jessica Sipperley, Editor in Chief
sipperl1@msu.edu
Cara Binder, Managing Editor
State Side, Arts & Culture
binderca@msu.edu
Kim Bale, Managing Editor
Global View, Sex & Health
balekimb@msu.edu
Trisha Poling, State Side Section Editor
polingtr@msu.edu
Katie Sulau, Global View Section Editor
sulaukat@msu.edu
Nicole Nguyen, Arts & Culture Section Editor
nguyenni@msu.edu
Lexi Biasell, Sex & Health Section Editor
biasella@msu.edu
Megan Sistachs, Photo Editor
sistachs@msu.edu

Posted in LettersComments (0)

Contact Us!

At The Big Green, we strive to put together comprehensive, well-written feature stories that spark interest, create debate or just make our readers stop and think about a topic in a slightly different manner and perspective. Our readers are the major vehicle of our magazine’s existence, and the editors want to hear your thoughts. If you need a clarification, have an objection or just find something that tickles your fancy, we want to hear about it. Here are the contact addresses for the 2007-2008 editorial staff…e-mail away!

Jessica Sipperley, Editor in Chief
sipperl1@msu.edu
Cara Binder, Managing Editor
State Side, Arts & Culture
binderca@msu.edu
Kim Bale, Managing Editor
Global View, Sex & Health
balekimb@msu.edu
Trisha Poling, State Side Section Editor
polingtr@msu.edu
Katie Sulau, Global View Section Editor
sulaukat@msu.edu
Nicole Nguyen, Arts & Culture Section Editor
nguyenni@msu.edu
Lexi Biasell, Sex & Health Section Editor
biasella@msu.edu
Megan Sistachs, Photo Editor
sistachs@msu.edu

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