You?ve got a copy of The Tartan in your hands. That is a much greater accomplishment than you might imagine.
I?m very proud to present the first issue of The Tartan?s 100th volume. A century ago, a small group of students set out to inform their peers of the newsworthy happenings of the day. Since then, the newspaper those students created has evolved into the most complete record of the student experience at Carnegie Mellon University.
Since 1906, more than a thousand students have contributed to The Tartan. News writers, photographers, columnists, artists, layout designers, editors, production managers, advertising staff, business managers, and personnel managers have built The Tartan issue by issue. Each of those thousand students has contributed to the copy of The Tartan that you hold in your hands. This newspaper was a long time in the making.
With such a long and rich history, it?s disheartening to hear about declining newspaper readership nationwide. Many people say that the speed and accessibility of online news will kill the newspaper, in the end. The vast, searchable body of online news will forever be more up-to-date and instantaneously accessible, but a physical newspaper like The Tartan?s print edition has a potency that online news has yet to match.
A newspaper is much more than the paper and ink used to make it. A newspaper is even more than the words on its pages. Newspapers can do what no other medium can do. The newspaper unites.
As you read this newspaper, there is a good chance that someone you don?t know will see you reading it and pick up a copy. As soon as that happens, you and that stranger have common ground. You?re aware of the same issues. You?ve read the same commentary. Whether or not you both agree on the issues, you?ve got something to talk about.
Watching TV at home or listening to the radio in the car are not actions visible to others. Reading a paper in the UC is. A newspaper is a tangible thing you can carry with you. Its conspicuous form tells the people around you that you are reading the news. In that way, it links readers who might otherwise not know what they have in common. A newspaper can help to build a sense of community.
Giving people common ground is especially important at our university. In spite of all its strengths, Carnegie Mellon has a significant weakness. The administration, the academic colleges, the student organizations, and the residential life are all highly decentralized. And this division extends beyond the university itself; we still face divisions on the basis of gender, race, and creed.
Groups of people within this community are very disconnected from one another, and it has prevented us from adequately dealing with significant, community-wide problems effectively in the past.
When we let the groups that make up our community become distant, dialogue comes to a halt. But dialogue can help to keep the groups in our community together. It is my first wish that, in its century-long tradition of informing the student body, serving as a public forum, and chronicling the student experience, The Tartan can help lead our community?s discussions. This is our contribution to creating a stronger community.
To make our contribution count, we will strive to create an ever improving newspaper. First, we will retain our dedication to providing accurate news coverage and diverse, intelligent opinion. Second, we will make sure that being a member of The Tartan?s staff remains an invaluable experience that can be found nowhere else on campus.
Finally, I resolve to reduce The Tartan?s dependence on your student activities fee to free up money for other student organizations, while continuing to create student jobs.
This year will be a strong start for The Tartan?s second century.