Halcyon Editor Speaks Out

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Kimberly Nelson ’98 was Co-Editor in Chief, Halcyon 1996, 1997 & 1998

I was interested to read the article on the fate of the Halcyon in today’s edition of the Gazette. I certainly understand that many Swarthmore students are interested in more lofty goals than publishing their college annual, but getting involved in the editorship and publication of the Halcyon can provide students valuable experience that they may not realize, much akin to running a small business.

When I was a student at Swarthmore, the yearbook was provided free of charge to seniors only, and the budget for the yearbook was enough to print those books without many bells and whistles such as color or other upgrades. Additionally the student editor-in-chief was a paid position, earning something near $1,000 to $1,500 for the year, depending upon his or her negotiations with the Student Budget Committee. The editor was then left in charge of both the business and the design of the book.

The business aspects of the yearbook involved running the largest budget of any student-run organization on campus (which was in the order of tens of thousands of dollars at the time if I remember correctly.) The editor would also develop a business-side staff to to do banking and maintain subscription lists, and advertise to students and parents to increase sponsorship and subscriptions among the lower classpeople who did not receive free copies. Increased revenues meant that color could be added, book covers could be more intricate, and other additions would be possible.

The design-side of the yearbook staff of course provided opportunities to student photographers, artists, and writers. Staff members would also learn how to use the Pagemaker software, which was the same program used in the publishing industry at companies such as Time, Inc. The yearbook staff would also hold an open house for the senior class in the publications office, providing a basic design lesson so the seniors could design their own pages. The editor and staff would then coordinate with the representatives at Jostens to submit material for printing.

Even if interest in staffing the publication has dwindled since I was a student, I can imagine many possibilities for the future of the yearbook, which might evolve to be an electronic or internet annual publication. I hope the Halcyon days of Swarthmore do not become a thing of the past.

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