Stories of tuition increases, campus events, Greyhound athletics, even Hanna Avenue construction news: although much has changed during the Reflector’s run, many aspects of UIndy’s student newspaper remain the same after nine decades. The Reflector is still managed entirely by a team of student editors and business staff. Today the student newspaper also employs an Applied Journalism class as staff writers.
“Reaching 90 years of publication is a huge milestone for a small university newspaper,” said Abby Nieten ’08, former editor-in-chief of the Reflector. “The role of newspapers, and technology in general, changed pretty drastically throughout the 20th century, and it continues to change in the 21st century. The fact that a student-run newspaper like the Reflector has been able to adapt to the changes and remain successful is amazing.”
The age of the Internet has provided challenges for all types of print media, but the Reflector continues to be successful in its role of chronicling the University’s past and reporting its plans for the future.
“With the onset of social media and a world obsessed with consuming news around the clock, the Reflector serves as a framework for broader campus issues that can’t be communicated 140 characters at a time,” said Shelly Pfenninger ’07, former managing editor, in a reference to the restrictions of Twitter. “From helping freshmen get through Orientation Week to lamenting the final chapter of college life,” she says, “the Reflector is a campus institution that has served as a voice for every student throughout UIndy’s history.”
The newspaper was up and running when the Reflector Publishing Association was established in 1922 with the sale of $500-per-share stock to 120 students. The internal investment paid for a printing press and the first two issues of the new Indiana Central College newspaper, the Reflector.
A five-member executive committee convened to edit the newspaper, led by editor-in-chief David J. Manly—an international student who hailed from Sierra Leone. As Manly was African, his leadership role was unusual for 1920s Indiana, where the social climate was such that the Ku Klux Klan wielded a great deal of power and influence. Twelve students volunteered to submit content for the publication, which appeared for the first time on November 15, 1922. The Reflector’s first issue featured 16 pages of news, jokes, and editorials from University administrators. The entire front page of the first issue of the Reflector, in fact, featured an editorial from University president I. J. Good, “Opening Words by the Reflector” (shown at left).
Manly resigned the post only days after the production of the second issue of the paper, when student stockholders of the Reflector Publishing Association “unanimously agreed to transfer all Reflector property from the stockholders to the student body.” The executive committee disbanded and was replaced with editorial and business staff. The Reflector would go on to publish continuously, despite the Great Depression and World War II, for all of its 90 years.
Road to independence
For decades the Reflector was a platform for the University’s administrators to promote plans and ideas for campus, rather than for supplying objective news. For nearly 30 years, presidential editorials were featured on the first or second pages of the publication. And prior to 1982, journalism students at the University had to travel to Franklin College to take classes. It wasn’t until the Department of Communication was created in 1982 that journalism students were able to take courses on the practice of objective journalism, copy editing, and newsgathering.
“If the Reflector had not been an independent publication, there would have been no point in joining its ranks as editor,” said Katy Yeiser ’07, former editor-in-chief. “Universities should do everything possible to prepare students for the professional world; for journalists, that means giving them every opportunity to work independently as a reporter and writer with no restraints. I’m thankful the Reflector operated as an independent publication.”
In 1997, Dr. Don Carmony ’29 established the Mary Hiatt Carmony ’29 Editorship endowment. Carmony, a former faculty member at Indiana Central, left the endowment to the University to pay for the Reflector editors’ stipends under the condition that there would never be school administrators on the advisory board other than Communication Department faculty. The gift recognized the importance of independent student media and encourages recipients to be more than a mouthpiece for the University.
Under the direction of professor Jeanne Criswell, the Reflector has won numerous local and statewide awards in recent years, including an Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award in 2009 for work completed the previous year.
“The leaders of our editorial staff redesigned the paper in 2008 and worked hard to improve the quality and student-run focus,” said Kim Puckett ’10, former news editor of the Reflector. “That year, we won a Pacemaker, the most prestigious award in student journalism. Nothing is more satisfying than hard work rewarded, and it really brought us together as a staff.”
The paper’s importance is apparent to staffers.
“The Reflector is sometimes the first impression for a visitor of the University, and that’s an extremely critical role,” said Stephanie Snay ’12, current editor-in-chief. “Students, staff, faculty, and alumni read the paper for UIndy news. I have a commitment to the Reflector to ensure that its future will be as successful as its past.”
Pick an issue, any issue
A searchable Reflector archive offers 90 years of uninterrupted campus reporting, from the first issue on November 15, 1922, to current issues. Visit http://archives.uindy.edu/reflector.php.