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The Rambler improves stature in student journalism

There’s a new look to Transylvania’s student newspaper these days, thanks to the addition of a dedicated part-time adviser, new and larger quarters for the Student Publications Office, significantly more student participation, and an emphasis on high standards of journalism.

The Rambler has established itself as a credible and consistent source of news and opinion by following a regular publication schedule—most Thursdays during the academic year—and offering its readers well-written articles on the important campus events and issues, along with engaging feature stories, entertaining columns, and expanded photo coverage.

Grace Chamber and terri mcclean or the rambler
Terri McLean, left, student media adviser, helped senior Grace Chambers, editor-in-chief, and her staff improve the Rambler during the 2009-10 academic year.

Senior editor-in-chief Grace Chambers said the staff has focused on improving virtually every aspect of the Rambler, including its standing on campus.

“My goal was to instill a sense of professionalism across the board, in content, layout and design, photography, and in the way we interact with news sources,” she said. “We have a presence on campus now, where we were nearly invisible before. People expect that we should, and will be, there to cover important events.”

Judges at the 2010 annual conference of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Press Association (KIPA) recognized the paper’s improvement as they handed out 12 first-place awards to Rambler staffers in all areas of newspaper production—writing, photography, design, and copy editing.

KIPA members chose Transy to co-host this year’s conference with the University of Kentucky, another indication of the Rambler’s increased stature in scholastic journalism. The conference was held on Transy’s campus in February and attended by approximately 130 students and advisers from 13 Kentucky colleges and universities.

“Transylvania can be very proud of the way the conference was organized and run,” said Bob Adams, director of student publications at Western Kentucky University and a veteran of many KIPA meetings. “Everything went smoothly. The friendliness and helpfulness of the hosts always helps to set the tone for a good conference, and Transy excelled at that.”

Terri McLean, who has more than 20 years of journalism experience at daily and weekly newspapers, joined the Transy staff in 2008 as student media adviser. Her work has had a marked effect on the proficiency and enthusiasm of the Rambler staff, stimulating them to work hard at mastering the concepts of good journalism and putting out a newspaper the campus community can be proud of.

“What I feel best about is the heightened perception of the Rambler now,” McLean said. “Each term we gain more respect, more credibility, more professionalism. As a result, the interest from students in wanting to be on the staff has grown. We had about 35 students on staff this year, and I expect to have that many this coming year.”

Campus life editor Erica Mundell, a junior, was named editor-in-chief for 2010-11. She feels the Rambler has done a much better job of covering a diversity of topics in recent issues.

“I think the content has improved dramatically, and that we’re bringing not only what the students want to read, but what they need to know as well,” she said.

A sampling of important stories the Rambler has covered over the past two years includes articles on the impact of the economy on Transy’s financial situation, selection of a new university president, and the effect on Transy students of a new state law prohibiting texting while driving. Editorials were written on Student Government Association proposals on student curfews, diversity on campus, and library security. Lighter topics featured twins at Transy, a photo montage of spring break scenes, and the arrival of intercollegiate Quidditch (from the Harry Potter novels) on the campus.

“I think our school newspaper has gotten much better over the past couple of years,” said senior Liz Todd. “The Rambler does a great job of highlighting the talents of Transylvania students, including artists, athletes, and world travelers.”

Sophomore Justin Penticuff is a regular reader of the Rambler and likes the diversity of opinions it offers.

“It provides a student voice on campus,” he said. “That’s one thing that drives me to read it, to see how my opinion matches up with something in the Rambler. One of the features I look forward to most is Kris Olson’s column (a witty, humorous look at varied subjects).”

Now that the journalism bar has been raised, Mundell looks forward to the opportunities she will have next year as editor-in-chief to make the Rambler even better.

“The production process we have now works really well, but I think we can improve our communication between writers and editors, and between editors and the senior staff,” she said. “Even though I know I’ll have some big shoes to fill, I’m really looking forward to the challenges.”

Read the Rambler's blog here.

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