by NICK BUCHANAN
Dr. Vallo’s independent guided study met twice a week in the concrete dungeon of a classroom in the library basement during the fall of 2015. Her challenge for me and my two peers was to accomplish something never before done at Tiffin University: a successful online student press platform that could reach beyond the campus we serve.
We nabbed the domain name to correspond with the name of the school’s second-generation student press – tutimes.weebly.com, a URL that still redirects users to this publication’s homepage – and quietly got to work. When Dr. Vallo pulled library archives of the student press at Tiffin University to chronicle our journey, she handed us a pile of copies of The Tystenac, a strange-named publication with a big, blocky masthead that launched in 1933 and faded into oblivion before the turn of the century.
Enticed by the intriguing moniker and the opportunity to honor the university’s history, we took its name – and later, I reclaimed its logo and reimagined its original design for our print issues. By then, our mission to create an online newspaper had refocused itself into a complete revival of this university’s student press.
As I prepare to walk across the Heminger Center stage in a green robe to grab an expensive piece of paper later this month, it’s hard to believe that we embarked on that mission almost two years ago. And it’s even harder to believe that my time as editor soon comes to a close and that I can look at this publication the same way a proud father looks at his daughter who just took her first steps.
While at the head of The Tystenac, I watched this publication take a life of its own as it underwent an unbelievable rebirth. At first, there were baby steps: We wrangled in a few staff writers, gained an online presence, and pushed out a print issue that, in hindsight, looks uglier than sin compared to what exists today.
Nevertheless, our first semester was nothing if not memorable: I’ll never forget my coverage of the Tiffin ghost tours, during which I communicated with the spirits of dead prostitutes from the former Hotel Berlin, or my staff’s early fascination with the 1980s movie Angel, a little piece of cinematic gold that Jess, Brandon, and I discovered during a meeting about a girl who was an honor student by day and a prostitute by night.
But I promise that it wasn’t all prostitutes and games. We worked, and we worked hard. Jessica and Brandon shook out a great little advice column. Kellie, Andre, and I set up a haphazard table at an event Dr. Curtis Charles held at the beginning of his short presidential tenure to showcase students’ work. And most importantly, my staff members found their knacks – for example, Jessica took to thorough reporting; Brandon, lighthearted feature pieces; and Pajah, razor-sharp commentary.
Meanwhile, I played the jack of all trades: Campus reporting, feature stories, music reviews, the gayest editorial content this campus has ever seen… You name it, I’ve done it. (That is, with the exception of sports reporting. Oh lord, the damage I’d do in covering a sporting event. My apologies, Dragons.) But most notably, I spent up to 36 coffee-fueled hours in front of a computer each week leading up to a new print issue – a seven-day period every month or so that I coined “print week” – to edit content, lay out pages, scramble through last-minute reporting to fill any white space, and edit all of the content once again to ensure that the product left on stands across campus was of the best quality I could provide as an editor.
In the fall of 2016, Dr. Vallo pondered out loud if the fruits of our productivity stood a chance against comparable universities in an Associated Collegiate Press conference, and by February 2017, we were boarding a crowded Boeing aircraft, headed to the Best of the Midwest journalism conference in Minneapolis with paper copies of our back issues in our carry-on luggage and high hopes in the back of our minds.
We expected nothing, but just three days after we left, the three of us who went to the conference to represent the newspaper that didn’t exist two years ago came back home with five best of show awards in tow.
In just two years, The Tystenac has grown to heights that I never expected – as have I. I rediscovered my love for reporting every semester with The Tystenac. I strengthened my overbearing editing hand via The Tystenac. I made some of my best memories on campus because of The Tystenac. My life changed only for the better while at the head of The Tystenac.
To Dr. Vallo, I offer more words of thanks than can be summarized in this piece. Thank you for passing along all of the journalistic tools up your sleeve. Thank you for the words of faith and reassurance in and out of class. Thank you for accepting my persistent aversion to the Associate Press Stylebook’s rule against the Oxford comma. (I have a feeling that future employers won’t continue to enable that habit of mine, but it was nice while it lasted.)
To my past and present staff writers, student body, faculty, and staff, it has been an honor. The tireless work we endured to revive Tiffin University’s student press would mean nothing without all of your support.
I leave you now in the care of Jessica Hollan. While she’s not a communication major with obsessive-compulsive tendencies in grammar, she has been with The Tystenac since its revival and has proven herself more than deserving of the spot. With continuing guidance and support of this campus, she will lead this publication onward through its newest chapter.