Making progress: The Collegian’s history of reinvention — Editorial


The Editorial Board

Header Image: The Collegian’s first issue

The Collegian took a major step forward this week as a student publication, and while it doesn’t seem like a major change, it has been in the works for a long time, and we as a news outlet are going to continue growing and changing at a rapid pace as a result. We are now hosted on and are in possession of the domain itself. While a website name change is not a major change, the abilities we now possess as an outlet have increased exponentially. Here’s why it’s important:

The Collegian started as an all-print, all-student newspaper in the ‘30s that would report on everything from hard hitting university politics to school dances. We ran horribly ignorant advertisements in order to stay afloat, with branding for cigarettes and local bars promoting sexist, and even racist stereotypes. But, like any newspaper, we matured, we found our way and we changed the way we presented ourselves. Many, many changes washed over the Collegian since its founding in the ‘30s, including ways in which we were allowed to present information, the addition and removal of major sections, the addition and removal of military participation reporting from the La Salle community and many shocking changes regarding the editorial staff. As a student-run paper, the staff turnover is expectedly sky high. But, it’s the legacy that past editors, editors-in-chief and writers leave behind that keeps the vibe, tradition and customs of the Collegian consistent despite constantly moving in fresh faces.

It could be argued that in 2020, when the Collegian transitioned completely away from printing on news stock to publishing on a database, the paper underwent its most major change to date. Our editorial staff at the time, led by Jacob Garwood, ‘20, worked incredibly hard to make the transition acceptable. The style, software, workflow, design choices and presentation of the paper had to be completely upended, and we needed a way to get the news out to the community. A few members of the staff took on a majority of the formatting work, while the rest of the editors had to adapt to an asynchronous editing style that limited interactivity and creativity. Overall, everyone on the staff was put up against a wall, but we continued to publish, and never missed a beat. The following year, our editorial staff, led by Bianca Abbate, ‘21, had a tough choice to make: When we return to campus, do we print again?

LSUCollegian via Twitter
Throwback to when the Collegian frontpage was in yellow.

Well, luckily, the pandemic made that choice for us, as printing costs shot up to unfathomable rates and the students’ activities fee was chopped. So, it looked like we would be staying online for a while. In January 2021, this website went up, and we have had the exact same style, visual look and method of editing/distribution since. That was largely because we have been operating on $0 of spending, and have been using a free-to-use website template to present the news to the community. 

Now that we have secured more funding and have been able to acquire and upgrade our site, we might be going through another one of those major changes. Perhaps the most important aspect of this is that our stories will now be securely archived. Almost every issue of the Collegian as far back as the ‘40s is securely archived both on paper and digitally through the Connelly Library, Learning Commons and held within the Collegian’s office. This was simple enough to do on paper, but now that all of our stories are presented digitally, there was worry that one day this website would lapse or we would expend our data limit and all of our current history would vanish. 

Another major development is that we can now customize our presentation with a lot more freedom. Currently, we are working with a student from the digital arts program at La Salle to completely overhaul our branding, and will move into the next academic year touting a new look, and will be able to stand next to the Drexel Triangle and the Temple News for the first time in years, and not seem behind-the-times visually.

For the time being, we are staying in a completely online format, which we know might upset some of our longtime readers, particularly those who were at one point members of the Collegian staff. While having a print paper is nostalgic and stylish, being able to publish online regularly means we can reach the La Salle community far beyond 20th and Olney. We have readers from multiple states, even multiple countries, who are able to read on a weekly basis. We also have the ability to incorporate multimedia elements like videos, the podcast and graphics in ways that previous Collegian staff never could. Now that we have our own web address and upgraded customization options, the quality of this multimedia will continue to rise, and we will continue to add new and fresh elements to our stories that make the lack of printing worthwhile. We hope that is a reasonable compromise.

As well as a number of managerial and editing changes — which we will not bore you with — on a top level, this site upgrade means we are easier to market and advertise, both in terms of audience, but also with writers and potential editors. Because of that mass turnover mentioned earlier, the Collegian is constantly fighting a battle on two fronts: making sure that content is excellent while we are here, and also trying to find the best the La Salle’s student body has to offer to continue that excellence after we graduate. Now that we have a secure footing, a real website and far more potential for creativity, we will be able to bring in many more students to our staff to hopefully continue our legacy. 

In the coming weeks, we will begin experimenting with dynamic changes on the, as well as start the recruiting process for current and future staff. We ask that, in this time of change, if you know anyone in the Lasallian community that might be interested in writing for any of our sections, or on any topic we don’t currently boast, that you send them our way. Now is the perfect time to begin working with us. We are currently looking to expand our staff into different programs such as those within the schools of nursing and business to better represent the full breadth of the school community, and always, are inviting alumni, graduate students, faculty and staff to write or submit letters to the editor. We are starting the next chapter now, and we can use all the help we can get to ensure our success. Thank you for sticking with us.

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