The Hilltop News
New staff prepares to unveil revamped paper
With the fall semester just starting and news barely trickling in, the Birmingham-Southern student-led paper The Hilltop News is up and running and poised to bring its talent and voice to the campus community.
The 2012-13 staff is continuing the work of its predecessors with smarter news gathering operations and a contemporary style of journalism. When the first issue of the paper rolls off the press Sept. 12, it will reveal a fresh look and a new strategic plan.
The paper’s top-level managers (from left) are
Mohamad Babi, Casey Muir-Taylor, and Anne Wood.
“Our aim is to make the paper even more student friendly and a little more modern,” says Casey Muir-Taylor, a senior English major from Hayden, who was promoted this year to editor-in-chief and selected his own staff. “We want it to be more like a magazine than a newspaper and to catch people’s eyes. We’re also hoping to print in mostly color this year. That hasn’t been done in a long time.”
Although previously published 6 issues per semester on Mondays, the newspaper has switched to a Wednesday production date. Also, the size is one and a half inches shorter than previous years, and all issues will be no more than 12 pages.
“Each section or column, whether Arts & Entertainment, Features, or Sports, will have a specific type of article each issue,” he describes. “For example, Arts & Entertainment may feature an article about a local restaurant or musician, and Features may have a faculty or staff profile that will highlight some type of interesting or fun work someone is doing either on or off-campus. There will be other creative staples to each section as well.
“We’re also hoping to optimize the placement of papers for maximum reach to the student body. In previous years, the paper didn’t get to all students. We’ll have news outlets all over campus, in many new locations. To draw attention to the paper, we’ll create signs with cover art, place them on easels, and display them in plain view near stands.”
He says one of the biggest criticisms from the student body last year was that the paper didn’t have enough pictures.
“I thought that was a little amusing because we are a paper—something you read,” says Muir-Taylor. “But with the rework we’re doing, it should allow us to have a lot more student photographs and images.
“We want to hear from the student body as much as we can this year. They are the bulk of the ones who will read the paper, and in past years, many students have not shown interest in it or been involved with what goes into it. I hope to send out a campus wide survey this fall asking students what they want.”
Besides shining a spotlight on all the great things the college does, the student reporters aren’t afraid to confront tough issues and will print anything that they deem to be appropriate. They plan to get in on the posturing of this election year by featuring two articles per issue that deal with a specific topic.
“In upcoming issues, we’ll report on President Obama’s view of immigration, women’s rights, LGBT issues, etc. as well as Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s views,” he notes.
The newspaper office is located on the first floor of the Norton Campus Center next door to the Office of Religious Life. Glenny Brock ’99, BSC adjunct professor of writing, serves as the faculty advisor. The newspaper has had a long and storied history on the campus since the early 1900s and is currently funded by the college’s Student Government Association.
The paper has renewed its website (www.thehilltopnews.com) that contains favorite articles from past issues and is on Facebook and Twitter. The staff also posts live tweets of speakers on campus.
The student journalists’ work helps them learn writing skills, research, civic engagement, leadership, and critical thinking, and it increases their awareness of what’s going on around them in the world. It also adds a good dose of real-world experience to their classroom work.
“I’ve always been incredibly shy,” says Muir-Taylor, “but working on the paper (and attending BSC in general) has helped me come out of my shell. You learn to work with a team and that others rely on you. I’m not afraid of meeting new people or speaking in front of a group anymore.”
Muir-Taylor is both excited and a little jittery about his newspaper stint. He hopes to motivate his staff to write about everything from student and faculty honors to linking things happening at the college to the larger world and help student writers to find their own voice. And he is fully aware of the accountability it entails, and the maturity required in responding to those who vehemently disagree with what’s been printed.
“It’s a huge job, and the responsibility is honestly pretty scary,” he says. “However, I am excited to have this opportunity to manage the paper and help reinvent it and make it something that students and others in the campus community want to read and are interested in getting involved with. Working for the paper has opened my eyes to all the things that BSC students, faculty, and staff do. There is always something going on and something to get involved with.”
Below is a full list of The Hilltop News editorial staff for the 2012-13 academic year. Feel free to email any member of the staff with questions, story ideas, and/or comments.
Design and Production Editors
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