Earlier this month, as part of the annual CSU Media Festival, a group of Rocky Mountain Collegian editors from decades past gathered for a panel discussion on how the media has changed and the Collegian has grown over the years.
The Sept. 30 event, which took place in the Lory Student Center, was part of a celebration of the Collegian’s 125th birthday. The panel, titled, “It Shall Be Our Earnest Endeavor…,” consisted of past Collegian editors who served as far back as 1956.
The panel started with comments from Floyd Shoemaker, who was editor of the Collegian that year along with his wife, Connie Shoemaker, who was co-editor and co-founder of the Spring International Language Center. He said it was a quiet time for media outlets that had a small staff, and he referred to it as the era of “the silent generation.” Women were not allowed in high-level positions, and when the Collegian won an award, only the men were allowed to go the ceremony to receive it, according to Shoemaker. There was little controversy, he said, and the paper was funded with student fees.
The next panelist to speak was Gary Kimsey, who was editor in 1973 and considered the ‘70s to be a “volatile time in the Collegian.” He noted that it was a time of major events like the Vietnam War and the struggle for women’s rights.
“It was an interesting time to be a college journalist,” Kimsey said. “I spent a lot of time covering protests, and a lot of time in the protests.”
It was a time when the Collegian printed news that students wanted to read and that helped them make sense of everything happening in the world.
Clay Lambert was the editor in 1986. He said it was a time when the paper said whatever it wanted and was less politically correct. The staff wrote what they thought, and if there were repercussions, the Collegian learned from them, he said.
An editor of the Collegian in the ’90s was Linda Carpio Shapley. The Persian Gulf War was taking place, and that was important for the Collegian because the campus community was affected, she said. The Collegian wanted to expand its world focus at the time, she explained, and staffers pushed the limit in writing and stuck to their voice.
“If you’re going say it, be ready to defend it,” Shapley said.
Next up was the current editor-in-chief of the Collegian, Erik Petrovich. Today the Collegian focuses on collaboration among departments at CSU, while also writing about national events and the community, he said.
While major changes have taken place in the Collegian since the ‘50s, every editor talked about being part of a newsroom family – and how being a journalist can teach you many things that are not taught in a classroom.
“The duty of a newspaper is to print news and raise hell,” Kimsey said. “So we raised hell.”