Our newspaper sucks.Wait — let me rephrase that. The NAME of our newspaper sucks.
The paper itself is actually quite good. I must have read at least two-dozen different school papers at a college journalism convention in New York City last month.
Some were great, with captivating writers and the glitz and gloss of a professional publication. Many were good, making for, at worst, a worthy read for an afternoon spell on the John.
But some were grotesque – failing even as a paper towel substitute, unable to soak up the scalding coffee I spilled on my jeans in the Marriott lounge.
But by and large, our little bi-weekly rag from the hills of Podunk Vermont stacked up against the big boys in the business with ease, even despite The Spartan’s lack of shiny tabloid pages or porn columns.
But damn . . . our paper’s name totally whomps.
The Spartan? Come on. Could we be any less creative with the title? I suppose we could have. We could have called it the Castleton State College Newspaper, which would have probably been the lamest of the lame titles we could possibly bless upon it.
But wait, wasn’t The Spartan called The Cairn a few years ago? Yes it was by God! It was when I started my illustrious (in my mind at least) career at CSC. Even then, as I sat in my first Cairn meeting, I couldn’t help but giggle at that name, too.
For those of you who don’t know, a “cairn,” according to the all-knowing and infallible Wikipedia, is “an artificial pile of stones” that is “often erected as a landmark” of some kind. I can only assume that the name was chosen for the CSC paper because it was somehow deeper in meaning. That somehow our paper would serve as a marker in the sands of time.
I’m as deep as the next Floyd-loving fellow, but I’m hardly delusional. I don’t really think that millions of years from now, little green men in tricked-out Frisbees are going to discover our local college paper — buried beneath the rubble of Leavenworth – and use it for anything more than fuel for their vessel’s flux capacitors.
So The Cairn name didn’t work for me either, primarily because I – and many students — couldn’t for the life of me figure out the proper way to pronounce it. Plus it just didn’t have that ring to it like the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, or even Dave’s old racket, The Post Star.
The Cairn. The Spartan. The Lazy Suck.
Am I wrong? Am I just boo-hooing just for the sake of doing so? Some would say yes, but if you really think about it, what’s in a name exactly? How many schools have a Spartan for a mascot? One-gazillion bazillion? It seems like it. Don’t you think we’d like to separate ourselves from them a little bit?
I’m not saying lose the school mascot or anything like that. I love Sparty. He’s boss. But to name our newspaper after him seems mildly ludicrous. You don’t see a lot of big-name schools christening their news rags after their mascots. There’s probably a reason for it.
And keeping in the theme of the CSC transmogrification that’s going down over the next couple years, shouldn’t we also sit back and maybe – just maybe — think about making our newspaper sound a little more, shall we say, scholarly?
Leave the Spartan tag for the athletic teams. It’s a great name that says, “we have come to kick ass, chew bubblegum, and rabidly ravish your women and children” – a necessity to any sports team worth its weight in sweat.
But it’s time for a new paper title, one that focuses on the uniqueness of Castleton, rather than a shared dime-a-dozen-and-probably-confused-with-Michigan-State label like the Spartan.
What harm could possibly come of it? We certainly wouldn’t be any worse off with even a generic name like The Castleton Chronicle or The Castleton Post Times.
Take a chance. Change the name. Be original. Set the bar. Roll the fugging dice.
A great journalist once said “buy the ticket, take the ride.”
I say why not?