When I got to Lawrence in 1965, the school paper was The Elms, a once-a-term publication that bore the heavy imprint of Headmaster Arthur Ferguson. Its content was for the most part innocuous: a few news articles, perhaps an editorial on a current topic, a couple of sports pictures. No gossip, no controversy—in all, pretty boring to read. However, I remember being absolutely mortified the first time I saw the paper, because a front-page headline screamed, "St. Mark's and Harvard-Educated Teacher Joins Faculty." I never knew who wrote it, as no one had interviewed me for the article or even told me it was going to be in there. All I could think was, "Jeez, do I reek that badly of preppie?" I didn't own a single Brooks Brothers shirt, didn't belong to any of the right clubs in college, and had never even been invited to a debutante party. I guess Fergie liked the “bling.”
Anyway, The Elms retired along with Arthur Ferguson. It would be the last professionally-printed student newspaper for a decade, until Spectrum made its appearance in the fall of 1979. But the intervening years were nothing if not colorful, journalistically speaking. The Elms was somewhat stodgy, but the 1970s were anything but. A little research in the school archives, with the help of Dick Jeffers and Paul Husted ’64, revealed that between 1969 and 1979, there were no less than nine student newspapers! All were mimeographed, many clandestinely; politics ranged from up-the-establishment radical (The Vision, later The New Vision) to coat-and-tie conservative (Turningpoint). These two were the longest-lived, but how many of you remember the LA Student Press, The Arena, The LA Sphere, Mental Floss, The Daily Chronicle, or The Missing Link?
Some of the writers were very good; all were passionate. Times were turbulent, and a great many students were deeply committed to changing the status quo—or maintaining it. Reading through these yellowing sheets, I could hardly find one that didn’t feature a call for a new dress code, new discipline system, new curriculum, new anything, as long as it was different from what was there. The conservatives had their say, too, though often they seemed like the Biblical voice crying in the wilderness.
Whatever their slant, these publications provoked thought and discussion, which is just what a newspaper should do. Eventually, of course, things calmed down, and once again, LA was student-paperless—until, in the fall of 1979, a bright, feisty sophomore named Chuck O’Boyle spearheaded, along with three or four classmates, the creation of Spectrum. As faculty advisor, I learned the ropes along with the kids: creating headlines that fit, cutting and pasting (literally, in those days), learning to write in the “inverted pyramid” style, and so forth. The paper has hung in since then, if sometimes by a thread. This year, however, Spectrum is seeing a renaissance: it will appear, tabloid size, in color, to be distributed in print and eventually online. With the support of faculty advisor John Bishop and communications director Dave Casanave, editors Charlotte Jones and Olivia Konuk ’14 are putting together the first issue even as I write this; with a little luck, the student press will again become the student voice. Watch for it!
Finally, for dessert, we present to you Page One of The Vision, Volume 1, Number 2, from the fall of 1969, painstakingly re-created from the original (which was so faded as to be almost illegible). The fearless editor was Andy Lampert ’71. For those of you over a certain age, this will be a nostalgia hit; for the “youngsters,” it will afford a glimpse into the world your parents (or maybe grandparents) inhabited back in high school. Right on, baby!
NEWS FLASH: Stay tuned for a Shep’s Place first -- an all-video “column!”
on Tuesday November 5 at 03:28PM