Learning from scratch
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Monday, September 28, 2009
9/28/09 at 3:57 AM
CLAREMORE — Rogers State University is continuing its growth as a four-year public institution, now complete with an independent student newspaper.
The RSU Hillpost is the first paper here since 1971, when the campus housed the Oklahoma Military Academy.
Senior Zack Stoycoff began the venture after deciding the university needed a new voice, like those he had seen at other campuses, in the college newspaper.
"We don't need a PR tool," Stoycoff said in a recent interview. "We need something that can work for the students and the faculty."
The first issue of the Hillpost was last month and included stories about tuition rates, possible new dorms and the financial state of the university. The paper will continue to come out every fourth Monday, said Stoycoff, who serves as editor-in-chief.
He is an English major. The school doesn't have a journalism program.
The Hillpost has an all-volunteer staff of about 10 students who report, edit and design the paper.
English professor Mary Mackie works as the faculty adviser on her own time.
Mackie has worked for various small newspapers before, and has overseen a few previous failed attempts to start a new paper at RSU, she said.
"I've always thought we needed a newspaper up here," she said. "We need something from the students."
This attempt succeeded mostly because it included dedicated students, a supportive administration and help from the community newspaper, Mackie said.
"Things just kind of fell into place and everybody's been so supportive," she said.
The paper is distributed throughout the main campus, as well as in the other campuses in Pryor and Bartlesville. It also goes out in the Sunday edition of the Claremore Progress.
The local paper agreed to let the students use its equipment and press in exchange for revenue from advertising sold in the Hillpost.
Bailey Dabney, publisher of the Claremore Progress, said he doesn't plan to profit from the Hillpost but wants to help students make their publication a success.
"We're doing really whatever they need to keep the paper going," he said.
In addition to providing more content, having a newspaper at RSU will introduce more local students to journalism and could spark interest in working for a newspaper, Dabney said.
"I like the idea, and I'm thrilled that they're doing a great job with it," he said.
Stoycoff said he was sometimes nervous while producing the inaugural issue. He has experience covering sports, but he hasn't done a lot of editing and designing.
"I was kind of learning from scratch, and so was everybody else," he said.
The Hillpost will soon have a Web site for posting stories, but Stoycoff is adamant that the physical newspaper is the most important part of the project. The media landscape may be changing, but the newspaper is still key to communication, he said.
"Even the college-age kids ... they want something in their hands," he said.
Stoycoff plans to pursue a career in journalism when he graduates in the spring.
"I like telling a story," he said. "I like the concreteness of newspaper writing. It's one of my passions."
Feedback on the first issue has been mostly positive, and students and faculty have voiced support for the Hillpost's success, he said.
Mackie said the students have done all the work and deserve praise for the effort.
"They're a very good group of people," she said. "I'm impressed by them."
Stoycoff said he eventually wants to see the Hillpost become a weekly paper that includes news from all of RSU's campuses.
He wants it to becomes a conversation starter that tackles serious news of interest to students and faculty, he said.
"I hope it becomes an integral part of life here at RSU," he said.
Shannon Muchmore 581-8378
CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World