I’ve written in before to praise The Medium, and my opinion hasn’t changed. Unfortunately, neither has that of the general student population, who don’t always feel like they have a reason to pick up the paper and read it. So I gathered opinions—thank you to the people who came up with these ideas—for some SPECIFIC changes, mostly minor, that would just make the paper that much more appealling.
1. More creative design. Imagine if you just added tiny, seasonal touches. You already do a bit with the throw, but these days the thing is decoration. Halloween? Why not write the letters in that classic dripping blood style and actually make people look twice? Or when we’re coming back from our Christmas break, put snowflakes falling around the words. On-campus events usually have associated symbols and logos. Or, if you wanted to be a little bolder, you could dedicate the whole first page to an eye-catching picture, like The Varsity has done with great success.
2. Reviews are good. Keep doing them. And you should, like professional papers, give starred reviews—just so we know whether the thing in question is worth our time right off the bat and then go into detail, without having to read a page of literary analysis just to know what you think about it.
3. Interviews, interviews, interviews. And more importantly, don’t just stick to athletics and music. There are lots more topics that students can connect with. Students themselves often have stories—don’t tell me there’s a shortage of fascinating characters among us. International students—what made them come to Canada? Successful alumni—what does their degree do for them? We even have some professors that are “real characters”, many of whom (not just the science department) are doing interesting research. Everyone knows which quirky, beloved English professor you’re talking about if you mention “tweed and bowtie”, but why is that we don’t ask him to talk about something outside of the curriculum?
4. More contests. Sure, you can have smaller prizes (or even that very cheap prize, recognition…). Right now you have one contest, namely for short stories, but the student body’s interests are much more diverse. Have a photography or an original art contest, and print the winner on half a page in colour. Have a poetry contest and maybe the stakes will finally improve the quality of the stuff that gets printed in Features. You have a website, so you could even have people submit music—God knows there are plenty of talented musicians among us. Or hold holiday-themed contests: what about an entry for best real (and no doubt cheesy) love story for Valentine’s Day?
5. This last one is actually my favourite. Ask questions! Let’s say you hold a regular mini-feature, just one line a week, to ask a thought-provoking question and have people write you a short letter about it. “When you pray to God, what do you ask for?” “How do you know when it’s love, and not lust or infatuation?” Or, if you ran out of ideas, you could always go with “What is the meaning of life?” and let us surprise you.
So there you go. It’s not vague—no “think of ways to improve it” or “make it more appealling”, but real concrete examples. You have no excuse about not knowing what you could do; it’s up to you if you want to do the work. And if you don’t like these, there’s always more. The double-issue model you’ve switched to is a good idea. Or look at some other papers and count how many still use full justified text.
Or ask the staff to submit one painfully embarrassing true story each and publish them. Nobody in their right mind would miss the spectacle!