Just a few years ago, the exposed pipes in the industrial ceiling of the Matthews Center basement were covered with newspapers — each day, we taped up a new edition next to the last, until one day toward the end of the semester we ran out of space and had to start a new row.
It was a tradition that design/managing editor Ben Berkley — now a managing editor at The Onion — came up with to both promote good design and hold us accountable for bad front pages.
The State Press print edition lived and died by its front page. On Mondays in the fall, that stellar football action shot guaranteed us a cover that students would stop and pick up on their way to class. Designers and editors would sit in a dark, cramped room and haggle for hours over placement of eye-grabbing graphics and bold headlines, and the final product gave burgeoning reporters clips that we still use years later in the packets that we hand (or email) to potential employers.
When I was editor in chief — the 2009-10 school year, also known as ancient history to current staffers — The State Press was a five-day daily newspaper that served the largest university in the nation. Given the state of the journalism industry as a whole at the time, that made it something like the third-largest newspaper in the state of Arizona. The staff of more than 100 students put out at least a 12-page paper every day, on top of classes, other jobs and sometimes even social lives. The editorial board from that year now works places like The Washington Post, The Oregonian, The Onion and POLITICO, and our training in the trenches putting out The State Press every day prepared us for that.
We inherited The State Press from the editors before us, and other students came after us – eventually moving to a tabloid paper format, then a weekly, and now to a fully online multimedia news organization. It’s sad to see The State Press newspaper go, but it lives on in clip packets, on resumes that continue to reach higher and higher perches, and most importantly, in the student staffers that still work tirelessly every day to cover ASU’s four campuses – no small task using any medium.
There’s an old cliché about how day-old newspapers are only good for wrapping fish. But in our few years at The State Press, with our notebooks and painfully slow computers and ink and paper, we helped build something lasting.
And though I bemoan the untimely demise of the mid-class crossword puzzle, I know the independent daily news organization known for serving Arizona State University since 1890 isn’t going anywhere.
Editor in chief, 2009-10 school year