LFTE: Happy 130th birthday to The Collegian

The Collegian celebrates 130 years of journalism excellence and education.

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Collegian | Devin Cornelius

Photo illustration of the collegian’s 130th birthday cake surrounded by old copies of the collegian.

Editor’s Note: All letters to the editor reflect the views of the editorial board only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian.

Dec. 1 marked the 130th anniversary of The Rocky Mountain Collegian’s first publication. Over that time, we’ve undergone countless changes as we raced to keep up with the ever-changing world of journalism.

When The Collegian began, it was a daily newspaper working to cover the lives and stories of the Fort Collins and Colorado State University communities, which at the time was small, agriculturally focused and vastly different from what it is today. Now, The Collegian is an alt-weekly struggling to stay afloat in a journalism industry that is forgoing print and constantly changing in the digital world. 

Each year, the new staff changes things, from the content they create to the way they design the paper to appeal to a digital world and a college audience. The new editors come in with creative visions, different perspectives and the ambition to make the newspaper into whatever they want it to be for one year.

The Collegian has been an important part of the community for years but an even more important mark of education and growth for the writers, editors, designers and photographers that had their first experience in journalism here. 

Our journalists have worked and interned at The Coloradoan, The Loveland Reporter-Herald, The Denver Post, Denver Westword and even national outlets like CNN. The Collegian has produced excellent journalists in its 130 years, and we strive to continue teaching the skills that continue to bring journalists into those incredible newsrooms. 

Looking at and talking about our Collegian archives is more than just a history lesson — it’s an opportunity to connect to the legacy that six students began and countless more continued.”

To celebrate The Collegian’s birthday, we took some time to look at our archives and reflect, reminisce and joke about our publications of the past — and we also had to make some cake, of course. Skimming through pages and pages of old newsprint, we saw the changes from complete black-and-white printing and pictures (even in the 1990s) to our colorful and vibrant paper of today; from squishing six stories onto one page to spreading out a single story between two or more pages alongside photos; from long, monthly publications to short, daily papers to medium-length weekly papers.

Photo illustration of a cake
Photo illustration of The Collegian’s 130th birthday cake surrounded by old copies of The Collegian. (Collegian | Devin Cornelius)

We spotted the names and faces of well-known politicians and celebrities from well before our time at CSU to steadfast figures in the community, like current CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank and Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation advertising manager Kim Blumhardt. We also had a fun time searching for the family members of our current editorial staff who worked at The Collegian previously, even 30 years ago. 

And while many things change, a lot also stays the same. The Collegian will always document the highs and lows of University sports, report on the questionable or formidable actions of our peers and the University and share the complaints, musings or hilarious statements of college students.

In a paper from 1992, The Collegian published a letter to the editor from multiple students stating The Collegian needed to pay more attention to instances of rape on campus and do something more than copying the police report. This week, The Collegian printed a letter to the editor stating The Collegian needs to do more to hold police accountable and be more critical of police and crime reporting. 

Looking at and talking about our Collegian archives is more than just a history lesson — it’s an opportunity to connect to the legacy that six students began and countless more continued. It’s a chance to keep projecting the voices of students as they make their own histories.

Anyone who walks into the newsroom passes an image of those few students who started it all, signaling the enormity of what they were about to do and what we do every week. Every time The Collegian publishes under Rocky Mountain Student Media, we carry on the legacy of J. David McSwane and his 2007 Collegian staff. And maybe someday, in just a few years or decades into the future, CSU students will walk past and carry on the legacies our staff is creating right now. We think that’s a pretty cool thing. 

Today, we’re not celebrating an elusive figure named The Rocky Mountain Collegian, we’re celebrating our employees — past, current and future — and thanking you all for what you do. 

Happy Collegian birthday from your current editorial board, 

Katrina Leibee, editor in chief

Serena Bettis, content managing editor

Devin Cornelius, digital managing editor

Reach the editorial board at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.