A New Signal: Redesign Puts Focus on Quality Campus News Report

ATLANTA – Terah Boyd can often be found researching and writing, and managing a team of staff writers in The Signal office.

The senior communications major is one of nearly 50 students on the student newspaper’s staff who have played a role in redesigning Georgia State University’s student newspaper, renewing its focus on providing quality news to campus and training the next generation of media professionals.

“My first week here I learned more than I ever did in any classroom,” said Boyd, The Signal’s news editor. “It’s one of the hardest things that I have done, but I think it’s also the most rewarding. I can’t imagine being prepared for a career if I had not done this.”

Sabastian Wee, a junior communication’s major and The Signal’s editor-in-chief, said over the last year every element of the student media organization has been transformed, with the addition of a new management and editorial team, and a new way of operating.

“When I got here the writers and editors really never met,” said Wee, who was formerly the editor-and-chief of Georgia Perimeter College’s student newspaper. “I worked with the editor-and-chief last year in trying to start changing the existing culture into something much more interactive and personable, because you always write better when you have an editor over your shoulder.”

After surveying students on campus last year, Wee and his staff spent the summer honing their writing craft and coming up with designs for a fresh newspaper look.

“We really tried hard to not look like Creative Loafing, but that is type of paper that our students are more interested in,” Wee said.

The Signal that hit the stands this fall incorporated a new logo, more engaging front pages and graphics throughout the publication.

“I remember having a meeting with them and they had 12 different versions of what the logo might look like,” said Bryce McNeil, GSU’s student media advisor. “They put a lot of thought into this redesign, probably a lot more thought into giving it a new unique look than I have seen in the years past.”

The weekly paper, which hits stands every Tuesday, will also include more explanatory journalism and stories that are meaningful to college students, such as how student activity fees are being used at GSU and how the upcoming presidential elections will impact their lives.

“Quality is what’s going to make us good, not just pretty design or sensational stories,” Wee said. “It’s quality work and when people see we are really enjoying what we are doing and are really serious about doing it.”

Besides training it’s staff and redesigning the newspaper, The Signal staff is just as interested in sharing their passion for journalism around campus.

The Signal and GSTV are cosponsoring “The 2012 Modern Media Conference,” a two-day media conference that includes host of the nation’s top media professionals, such as Jovita Moore, a prominent Atlanta anchor with WSB-TV and acclaimed design instructor Tim Harrower. The conference, which is free for Georgia State students, will be held on campus Sept. 28-29.

“When we go to these national conventions we come back pumped, energized and full of ideas that you get from advice from all these different professionals,” Wee said. “We wanted to bring it here so we can open it up to everybody. And so the general population can understand how tough it really is, the kind of detail that we try to get through and who we are as student journalist trying to learn to become professional.”

Wee and Boyd, both of whom joined the paper last year, said the redesign and the conference have been well received by students. The newspaper’s next big projects include the unveiling of a new WordPress website and new social media pages in October, Wee said.

Working at The Signal is one of many ways students at Georgia State can utilize what they learn in class in a real world environment. Students who want to learn more about working at The Signal, can attend an Open House at noon on Oct. 4 in The Signal office, in suite 200 of the University Center.

“I think it’s a really important to be a watchdog for the community and it will always have a very important place in society,” Boyd said. “It’s an honor to learn how to do that here. It’s teaching us to be more focused journalists, how to know our audience and how to ask the right questions.”

For more information about the conference, pick up this week’s Signal on Tuesday or visit http://www.gsusignal.com/.

Sept. 24, 2012