Technician in trouble

Posted: March 10th, 2010 | Author: Tyler Dukes | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | View Comments

Issue No. 1

As soon as I graduated from N.C. State, I picked up what my father jokingly insisted would be the last thing he’d ever buy for me — a beautiful diploma frame for a document it took me five years to earn.

I love N.C. State with a passion only a better writer than me can describe. My time there amounted to some of the best years of my life.

But despite the prominent place my B.S. holds on the wall in my office, the symbol of my proudest accomplishment is a large red book covered in a layer of dust in my library. It’s a bound collection of every edition of the Technician published during my tenure as editor-in-chief.

That paper made me the person I am today. It equipped me with the skills I needed to become a journalist and contribute something valuable to my community.

But now, the Technician is in trouble.

I’m not clear on all the details of what happened — the paper hasn’t published a story on it yet. But one thing is absolutely clear to me — the Technician cannot die. And I’m not alone in that opinion.

This student newspaper, which is just 10 years shy of its 100th anniversary, is too important to the community of North Carolina’s largest university, a university that commands more than half a billion dollars of taxpayer money.

So if you have a horse in this race — whether you’re a Technician alum, student, faculty, staff, community member or just a fan of student newspapers — I could use your help.

I’m trying to gather feedback on the way forward for this newspaper. I’m looking for anything you’re willing to give me, be it ideas, critique, complements or reasons why you believe it is doomed to fail.

You can deliver that feedback in a variety of ways, many of which are sure to evolve over the next two weeks:

• Leave me a voicemail by clicking on the Google Voice widget in this post. We need your affiliation with the paper (reader, staff member, alum, etc.) but you don’t have to provide your name.

• Comment on this blog post.

• Share your thoughts on Twitter, or link to your own blog post on the topic, using the #ncsutechnician hashtag.

• If you’re a student at N.C. State, consider joining the staff of the Technician. Whether you’re headed for journalism or not, writing for a daily newspaper will teach you some valuable lessons about teamwork, time management and meeting deadlines.

Also, if you’re an alumnus of the paper, enter your information into my alumni directory so I can keep track of where the Technician’s past staffers have ended up.

With your help, I believe we can help guide this newspaper back onto the right path and ensure the sweat and tears of so many students in this paper’s 90-year history won’t be in vain.

  • jjjkk
    Have Jeff Gaither come back and write more articles calling sororities whorehouses and encouraging drunk driving. It worked when you were "editor"!
  • emarti
    Though there have been some poor stories lately (, students still read the paper and regularly discuss its content. I was especially pleased with the coverage of the outrageous Talley referendum last semester and, as a "reformed" UNC alum, I think the 'Daily Tar Hell' page was genius.

    I saw the article asking for help today, but "contact the staff about helping" just wasn't that convincing. I hope they will include an article soon that spells out what kind of help they need and possibly set up a time for an interest meeting. I have no earthly idea how a newspaper is run, but I might be willing to help, if I knew what that would entail.
  • dnclark
    Man, I know things were rough a few years ago, but I had no idea it had gotten to this point. Sounds like what (the) Technician needs is bodies. I remember how much time the student editors put in, and I don't doubt that Ty Johnson put the paper before his grades.

    Tyler, do you know if Student Media's got any money to throw at this issue? Could they potentially hire a full- or part-time content coordinator? From the sounds of it, I doubt the paper's been pulling down much ad revenue, but if they could lure someone in to work around-the-clock on editor-ish tasks it might give the paper enough breathing room.

    If they can find someone (which might be easier than you'd think in this job market) to take up some of the editor slack in the short-term, and more of the behind-the-scenes stuff in the long, it might be enough of a foundation to build the senior staff back up, and make transitions easier down the road.

    As for bodies, are Tech writers getting into the classes and getting some face-time with students? I know Reavis was always happy to let the editors in. He would offer bonus point incentives for getting printed, too. Is anyone talking to the other English Dept. profs?
  • sgk1212
    There is clearly a lack of adult leadership on State's campus. Someone in the administration (up near the top) needs to get a grip on this situation and get it fixed -- NOW!

    There's been a great deal of turmoil at State in the past several months and this Technician business is something that's fallen through the crack. Everyone's been preoccupied with the Easley/McQueen/Oblinger nonsense and the new chancellor needs to bring some focus and stability to the school.
  • kristengallagher
    When I read about this issue, I was shocked, to tell the truth. As the Advertising Manager and a staff writer for The Meredith Herald, Meredith College's paper, I looked to the Technician as a goal for what our small, often floundering, paper could someday be. I think that we're both in the same boat now, which, to be honest again, is strange when you consider the size differences of the two schools. However, I do agree that colleges "can't not" have a paper - having a student run newspaper is vital to campus life, whether or not most students know it. My suggestion is that the staff of the Technician and the staff of the Herald sit down and work with each other after Spring Break - we are daily gaining more ground at our own school, and I would hate for The Technician to lose their ground. Perhaps the two staffs can support each other in this growing process.
  • mattlail
    Tyler, thanks for leading this. I've posted something:
  • rboulanger
  • I'm trying to figure out what happened in the past few years that things got so bad so quick. Staffing was an issue back when I first wrote for the op/ed section in 2000, but I don't think it ever got to the point where numerous leadership spots were unfilled (marko will recall better than me).

    Content seems to be routinely on the dour side for the past couple years, and I'm sure that contributes -- but it can't explain it all.

    From a personnel standpoint, the Board of Directors and Technician alumni need to find a strong-willed leader who can go out and sell the students on what student journalism is all about. Get people believing in your product and recruitment will take care of itself.
  • sskutnik
    Having worked at the Technician for a short period as a writer and having read it as a student for a few years, I have more than a few suggestions, although more than the space here reasonably allows.
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