On April 17th, three staff writers from UC Clermont’s The Lantern took a road trip to Columbus to meet with Ohio State’s The Lantern to compare the two college newspapers. Although the two organizations are quite different in many ways, both are doing their part to shine a light on their respective students, staff, and faculty, and the myriad events that happen on and around their respective campuses.
One of the most significant differences between the two newspapers is the size of the staff. UCC’s The Lantern only has nine staff writers (with at least one that is an English major), one IT student support specialist, and one faculty advisor. OSU’s paper, however, has no fewer than forty-eight reporters, plus a relatively large editorial staff as well—all journalism majors. Its advisor, Spencer Hunt, also teaches at the OSU and worked for the Cincinnati Enquirer earlier in his career.
Unlike Clermont’s Lantern, Ohio State’s paper has a student Editor-in-Chief, Sallee Ann Ruiball, who was kind enough to set up this “Lantern vs. Lantern” meeting for us. She established her position in the paper through her years of hard work and dedication to journalism. Clearly, the staff at both newspapers is quite different in terms of size and career objectives, but both contribute a great deal to the college and take tremendous pride in the work they produce.
Another key difference is that unlike the staff writers here at Clermont, the students at OSU do not get paid—at least, those that do the day-to-day reporting. Instead, they write stories for a grade in a journalism class, and if the students work hard and produce a story that an editor (who is paid) finds interesting and worthy of publication, the story is released both online (thelantern.com) and in print. In fact, OSU’s The Lantern newspaper dispensers are ubiquitous on Ohio State’s campus, and are often empty.
In addition to the large number of reporters, OSU has eight student staff editors for its various sections or columns, whereas UCC has just one editor (its advisor). Staff editors at OSU are all students who have performed exceptionally well in their journalism classes and have shown a desire and aptitude in their intended profession. They earn a monthly stipend and are required to go through extensive training to become editors. In contrast, since UCC’s The Lantern operation is significantly smaller in scope, there are no student editors per se. Its staff writers investigate, write, and also edit much of their own work, with final editing left to the advisor. And, instead of a team of IT and layout/design experts, UCC operates with one (very dedicated) student IT specialist.
The sheer volume of stories or articles produced by these two organizations is also notably different. Because of OSU’s large staff and more specialized positions, many stories are able to be published weekly. According to Ann Ruiball, “About thirty-six to forty stores are published each week,” which is something that would be extremely difficult for Clermont’s limited staff. Still, even given this disparity, the Clermont staff writers work vigorously to produce numerous stories each week (up to 8-10) that the staff, faculty, and students will find timely and interesting.
The process of determining who writes which stories is also very different at both newspapers. For instance, when UCC’s The Lantern holds staff meetings, staff writers choose from a select amount of stories, or they discuss new story options as they become available. OSU’s The Lantern, on the other hand, approaches this quite differently. At the beginning of each semester, the staff reporters in the journalism courses are asked to pick three categories (i.e. sports, arts, campus news, etc.) that they would like to focus on, and number those categories in order based on preference. After a week, the students are given one of the newspaper categories that they previously selected. The student is then required to focus on finding stories for that specific category throughout the rest of the semester, all for a class grade
While touring Ohio State’s facilities, UCC’s Lantern staff also had a chance to interview several members of Ohio State’s staff; they offered to share information about themselves and their experiences. For example, Mick McWilliams, a junior and the sports editor, focuses on football and basketball stories and says that, in order to be a sports editor, it helps to have “knowledge about sports writing.” McWilliams also mentioned that, after he finishes his degree at OSU, he wants to work somewhere in sports broadcasting.
Spencer Hunt, Ohio State’s newspaper advisor, graduated from the College of Illinois and now teaches both journalism and practicum courses at OSU. He understands that with a program and organization of their size, “The newspaper can get national attention.” This was certainly true on November 28th, 2016, when there was a school shooting on Ohio State’s campus. The nation’s attention was focused, at least in part, on the reporting done by the campus student news organization during that time.
Also, Lee McCoory, an assistant design editor, is a fourth-year political science and journalism major. McCoory also has a very positive outlook concerning OSU’s newspaper and the five hours she works during the week.
Although the two newspapers are very different in many respects, there is one important similarity: Both are read and enjoyed by the college staff, faculty, and students. Both newspapers take pride in publishing stories frequently that they hope will educate, enlighten, and inform its readership.
To see the companion photo essay of this article, please click here.