The Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper, was set to print its first edition of the 2018-2019 school year the same day the university announced head football coach Urban Meyer’s suspension at a 9 p.m. press conference. The Lantern’s print deadline was 10 p.m.
“It was a very tense time for the students,” said Spencer Hunt, director of student media at The Lantern. “It was their first print publication and we had major news, and we had to figure out how to handle all of that. Right from the beginning, this new staff has had to deal with unusual challenges.”
The students met their deadline that night and published their first edition of the year with the breaking news on Meyer.
The 23 student editors on The Lantern’s staff have enjoyed some of the greatest success the publication has seen in recent years, according to Hunt. For the 2017-2018 school year, its website hit 3.5 million page views. The Lantern also swept the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists Awards, winning the Best College Newspaper (nondaily) as well as earning both first and second place in newswriting, sports writing and feature writing.
Two of the biggest stories reported on by The Lantern this year were also in the natonal spotlight. The coverage of the Urban Meyer controversy, which resulted in the coach’s suspension, and the sexual misconduct allegations of former Ohio State wrestling team physician Richard Strauss earned The Lantern national recognition.
“The Columbia Journalism Review did a write up about what the editors and reporters were able to accomplish covering all of the major stories that were breaking over the summer,” Hunt said. The Columbia Journalism Review is a leading professional magazine for journalists published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
"The Columbia Journalism Review feature was a big deal," said Hunt.
The Lantern remains editorially independent from Ohio State and relies on advertisements for revenue just like any other paper. However, a newly formed School of Communication Advancement Board will also take actions to help support The Lantern financially and ensure it remains an independent, student-run publication.
“With the advisory board’s help, we’re really optimistic that we can start building an endowment,” Hunt said. “This endowment could take a lot of the pressure off our reliance on advertising.”
The board, made up of six alumni of the School, came together for the first time over Homecoming Weekend in October to discuss their goals for how they plan to to support the School of Communiation overall.
“We had our first meeting, and it was just awesome,” said Sandy Hermanoff (1965), an alumna of the School and the founding chair of the advancement board. “We’re looking to do some wonderful things in the future.”
The other board members include alumni Patricia Miller (1972), John Oller (1979), Jay Smith (1971), Ted Beattie (1971) and Adrienne Roark (1993). Hermanoff was a long-time supporter of the idea to create such an advancement board, and she said the group is excited to do everything it possibly can for the School. Initial goals for the board include creating a mentoring program for students, promoting the department’s biggest achievements to the media, and helping fund and expand The Lantern.
“I’m really thankful for the school that they were able to put this board together,” Hunt said. “We have some really distinguished journalism graduates who are very fond of their time with The Lantern, and they’re working really hard to see what we can do to guarantee The Lantern is financially successful and sound moving forward.”
Two of the board members, Patricia Miller and John Oller, are long-term donors to The Lantern and each fund a special editor position on staff.
“They (Miller and Oller) created these endowments years ago,” Hunt said. “It’s great to have them because they help The Lantern really focus in on some things that we can’t do on a daily basis.”
Students in these positions receive a monthly stipend to support them as they focus on investigative journalism. The student works on a project that reveals new information or breaks new ground, sometimes spending an entire semester writing their article as they do research, analyze data and conduct interviews.
This year, Kaylee Harter, the current Patricia B. Miller Special Projects Editor, did an analysis of NCAA coaching statistics and found that since Title IX was enacted in 1972, there has been a decline in the number of women coaching, despite the expansion of women sports at universities. Jerrod Mogan, the John R. Oller Special Projects Editor, researched grade inflation and found that over a five-year period, GPAs increased at Ohio State four times faster than the national average of four-year universities.
One of The Lantern’s biggest goals for the future is to expand its presence as an online multimedia news source.
“We’re doing everything we can to try to expand and grow different digital audiences,” said Hunt. With the help of Assistant Professor – Clinical Nicole Kraft through Ohio State’s Digital Flagship initiative, The Lantern app is already downloaded onto the iPads all incoming freshman receive.
“Having our app among all of the other programs that you download when you set up your iPad is really key for us,” Hunt said. “We’re hoping that’s going to help establish The Lantern more in the minds of students.”
Article written by student Christian Snyder