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Back on the rack: Student newspaper resumes printing after COVID-19 pause

Jasmin Gomez walked into the Castleton Media and Communication lounge and picked up the latest edition of The Castleton Spartan, the student-run newspaper on campus, and saw her name in the byline. 

“It was a really good feeling,” Gomez said. “The first time I saw my name in print, I wanted to see it again and it made me work even harder.”

The Spartan has been running printed editions for decades, but because of the campus-wide shut down last year, staff members were forced to solely rely on a digital version to keep community members informed on the latest local news. But after a brief recess, The Spartan has made its way back to the printing press.

“We took a break for one-and-a-half semesters on the print version, but now we’re back on it. And it hasn’t been the easiest,” said Managing Editor Aris Sherwood. 

Before COVID-19, the staff would gather in the Convergence Lab on campus, chatter spilling out of the door as editors designed the eight-page. The newspaper’s advisor, professor Dave Blow, guided them through the process.

“All of the designers have to get used to InDesign on their own separate computers in their own house, without Dave’s immediate guidance, as well as organizing the stories and photos for the pages ourselves,” Sherwood said.

Blow now has to provide guidance with students sharing their screens over Zoom.  

Although the remote editions provided learning opportunities, journalism students say they still preferred the hard copy paper. 

“All of our articles went up online. Deadlines were a little more flexible and things were uploaded regularly,” said Spartan Copy Editor Josie Gawrys. “But now, since we’re printing again, we’ve shifted back to our previous schedule.”

When talking about the importance of the print edition, Sherwood said she wanted to bring back a sense of “normalcy.” She also touched on how reporters feel more motivated and challenged to write knowing it would reach a wider audience. 

“The Spartan is not only used as a news source for campus, but also for the people that live in the town of Castleton and even outside of Castleton, so we definitely wanted to bring it back for that reason,” she said.

Staff members recall delivering fresh papers to local businesses around town, replenishing the empty space where the last edition was devoured by community members.

“Seeing the papers on a table at Birdseye or down at the gas station really makes you think about the impact your writing has on the community,” said former Spartan Managing Editor Brendan Crowley, who graduated in December. “I’m super excited to hear the print edition is back. I will definitely be making my way back to town to pick one of those bad boys up.”

Past and present editors say The Castleton Spartan is more than just a newspaper to so many people. It gives a sense of pride to young writers (during)as their first publication, a feeling of home to alumni, and a new found family to staff members.

“You all feel connected by one thing,” said Sherwood. “One thing that you care so deeply about.”