“All progress is the result of mental activity. Therefore the condition of the mind determines the extent of that progress. If the mind is sluggish, advancement is impossible.”
Thus began the first article in the first issue of the Rocky Mountain Collegian, a little over 125 years ago, dated December 1891. It was from the “First Prize Oration” delivered the previous month by John Walsh, class of 1894.
Senior A.J. Sedgwick was editor in chief. He and five others — including Society Editor Irene C. Edwards, the only female on staff — wrote the following in the “Editorial Comment” section, titled “Salutory”:
“After much delay, resulting from a number of causes, the Collegian has at last made its appearance. The managers will do their utmost to produce a creditable paper, and one that will meet with the approval of all friends of the College. It shall be our earnest endeavor at all times to present all of the College news — what the students are doing in different departments, the changes that are being made, and, in fact, everything of interest connected with the College.”
There was an item about the college newspapers in Colorado and surrounding states with which the monthly Collegian was exchanging copies. Excerpts from the “Local Department” (see box at right) included items about the dancing club, hopes for starting CSU’s first fraternity, social engagements and enrollment hitting a whopping 124 students.
The Collegian is the oldest continuously published college paper in Colorado and one of the oldest in the West. Its long and storied history was the subject of a panel discussion among former editors held last fall as part of the annual CSU Media Festival, to honor the paper’s 125th anniversary.
Today, the Collegian serves a student population of 33,000 instead of 124. Its print circulation is 5,000, and collegian.com had 441,160 page views during the fall semester, up about 10 percent from the previous spring.
The paper operates independently as an arm of the Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation (which also manages other outlets like KCSU and Collegian TV). It is funded primarily through student fees and advertising revenue.
Collegian advisor Jim Rodenbush said his role is to simply serve as a resource to the students; he doesn’t approve articles before they’re published — although he and editors critique each issue during evaluation sessions after each one is published.
“Under no circumstances do I say you have to do this or that,” Rodenbush says. “They don’t have to listen to me.”
The content is overseen by an editorial board of 12 to 15 people. The paper relies on a staff of about 100 student contributors, including editors for each section. Regular 16-page issues appear Monday through Wednesday, followed by a 24-pager on Thursday, with periodic special editions on Fridays.
As for its digital presence, Rodenbush says the Collegian website has been made more mobile-friendly. The proportion of readers who read the site on a desktop computer vs. a mobile device has flipped in the last couple of years, to 43 percent and 57 percent, respectively.