Editor’s Corner

The state of The Polytechnic

As a rule (well, sort of), the editor in chief writes editor’s corners a few times during their tenure. Traditionally, they’re once right at the beginning of their term, once at the end, and a few times in the middle. The middle ones are run around big events—like Homecoming & Reunion or the Accepted Students Celebration—or when students are about to pack up and leave for the summer or are just arriving on campus in the fall.

Because you’re smart and got accepted to RPI, you know which one of these this is. Also, by this point, you know what the EIC writes about: the state of the paper, for the most part. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, here it is.

The staff of The Polytechnic elected me editor in chief in December. We were just wrapping up a semester of printing biweekly, and we were struggling with the knowledge that the Union had bailed us out on the order of low five-figures. For years, our advertising department had struggled to sell ads, and our business managers had struggled to fully collect.

I had a decision to make, and fast. I felt I had three choices, and one of them would not work. The latter was continuing to print biweekly, something which royally screwed up our ad clients and almost ended up being worse off than we had been. The remaining options were to either revert to printing our usual schedule, weekly, or to stop printing on newsprint altogether and switch to a purely-online format. Obviously, we chose number one.

We got our ducks in a row and made a plan for the rest of the school year. In short, we knew we needed to focus on visibility—the ads would fall into place. We worked on staffing, editors bringing in friends to help read copy and learn layout; we ever-so-slightly touched up our nameplate, making it easier on the eyes and a little more modern, and then we plastered campus with Concerto ads and stuffed papers under dorm room doors; and we took advantage of our location in the Union, creating a giant logo for our windows, complete with LED strips to light up the individual letters at night. Throughout this process, our readership rate on campus increased, to the benefit of our ads team.

Then we increased coverage and special features. We started reviewing more on-campus events than previous years, and we began to heavily cover sports. Every Senate meeting has had a Poly reporter at it, and we usually send a photographer too. We also published what we believe was a very well-received April Fools’ Day issue, containing not a drop of legitimate content.

Lastly—and quite unfortunately, if you ask me—we broke news of what is being considered the largest scandal in Rensselaer’s recent history, the so-called Postergate incidents, where Student Government officials were recorded, in a joint investigation between The Poly and RPI TV, removing posters supposedly opposing their viewpoints. This incident provided the RPI subreddit with the top post in its four-year history, with about 120 more points than the next-top post. It also made for the single largest day and week in The Poly website’s lifetime, having around twice the campus population check out the to-the-minute updates. All in all, it was a pretty crazy week for the paper.

In closing, the paper is doing much better. We’ve stopped the bleeding and have just about finished chest compressions to fully resuscitate. I’m pleased with what we’ve done this semester, and, while I can’t wait for a nice, relaxing summer break, I can’t wait to dive back in and continue next year.

As always, if you have any suggestions for us, please forward them to poly@rpi.edu; we always are striving to improve every facet of the paper. Thank you for reading The Poly, and have a wonderful, safe, fun-filled summer! Don’t forget to put on that sunscreen!