|Michael Swickard on NMSU Student Radio|
© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.
"The college that does not feel the need of a medium for the publication of its various doings and saying must be a very quiet sort of place with students who never play pranks and teachers who cannot appreciate a "break" when it is made." In the first New Mexico State University yearbook, 1908
There has been an announcement that NMSU's student newspaper, the Round-Up, will terminate weekly editions and settle into deep obscurity as some kind of monthly magazine. Perhaps that will still let students get paid but it serves little other purpose in keeping student media on campus.
A student newspaper is a vibrant alive burr under the saddle of the administration and focus of many conflicting views. It breathes and snorts and fires the imagination. Or, it did in the past.
Some of us who are former staffers of the media at NMSU are saddened by this action. I was on my high school newspaper and yearbook in Alamogordo as a photographer and when I came to NMSU in the fall of 1968 I continued student photo journalism.
My father, a photography instructor for the Air Force taught me well all phases of photography. My first year at NMSU I worked with the Round-Up, became the Head Photographer of the yearbook, worked on the student radio station and got in on the ground floor of the television efforts.
I was even elected to the NMSU Student Senate from the College of Arts and Sciences to protect the budgets of the three media: the newspaper, yearbook and student radio station. Myself and Brad Cates were the two real conservatives in the Senate. Brad was later elected Student Body President.
In October of 1969 Harvey Jacobs, Journalism and Mass Communications Department Head called me to his office. He almost single-handedly built the NMSU media program and wanted me to do him a favor.
Justin Weddell, Class of 1908 was the driving force in starting both the student newspaper and the yearbook. He was getting a special honor for Homecoming and would be arriving from Chicago. Someone needed to show him how the campus had changed. As someone who worked with the student newspaper and yearbook, I was given the opportunity to spend the day with Weddell.
As luck would have it, I respected Harvey Jacobs and it was the very first thing he had ever asked me to do so I was in for the day. Weddell was eighty-two and still in fairly good health. We walked around with him saying, "Our student dorm, The Klondike was over there until one night when it burnt down."
His Senior Thesis was The Art of the Southwestern Indian which he mentioned. I asked if he had gone to see the pictographs at Three Rivers. He had several times. I smiled and mentioned that my grandmother had taught school in that one-room school in 1908. He did not remember her directly but remembered the school.
We had a pleasant day and then it was time for him to join other graduates for the Homecoming festivities. He held my hand a few moments and said, "Don't let them kill what the class of 1908 started." I promised to fight for the media. Already, even in 1969, student newspapers and yearbooks were thought to be out of date.
The Round-Up essentially quitting the news business would not have surprised Justin Weddell since students no longer read newspapers. They skim electronically and stories over fifty words are in danger of being ignored.
I do not mourn for the Round-Up, I mourn for the learning opportunity that the editors and news producers had in putting out the paper. It came out twice a week in my era and once a week currently. That required writers to be on deadline and editors to manage their time effectively.
Publishing once a month is like not at all. The NMSU students have gotten quiet as they are surrounded by their electronic world. I am not as old as Justin Weddell was when I spent a day with him. Still, it was forty-six years ago and I'm no Spring Chicken. We are and were Round-Up dinosaurs remembering a better time.