The Collegian
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Messenger staff plans to improve quality and publish an extra edition

Collegian Reporter

The Messenger's new editor, senior Jenny Patchen, has returned to Richmond from abroad with new ideas to revamp the campus literary magazine.

Instead of the traditional annual edition of the Messenger, the staff will produce two editions, one each semester.

The Messenger has not had a strong presence on campus in the past, but Patchen said she and her staff hoped to change that. Greater recognition could not be achieved with just one issue each year, she said.

"We are hoping that the Messenger's presence on campus will exponentially increase this year," said Publicity Editor Ariel Olson.

Two years ago, the Messenger was printed too close to second-semester final exams and people did not get the issue, said Schuyler Swartout, the poetry editor. Printing two issues before both finals times should allow time for everyone who would like to see it to do so, he said.

Although the Messenger's history remains largely mysterious, Patchen said the staff had started to investigate its origins. She said she was surprised to learn that this year was not the first time the magazine would be produced biannually. According to staff research, two issues were printed during the 1990-1991 school year.

Patchen said she was confident that the Messenger staff received enough submissions each year to create two editions.

"We usually have to turn people away," she said.

With the growth and quality of Richmond's creative writing program, she said there were enough talented writers on campus to provide material for two issues. She said students in the past had submitted work from their creative writing classes as well as work they had produced on their own.

The first issue would be of the same quality as the previous issues of the Messenger, just a bit shorter, Patchen said. She said that she hoped to print about 40 pages during first semester and a full-length issue, about 100 pages, during second semester.

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Swartout said the staff had a plan in case it did not receive enough submissions first semester. The staff would print a smaller pamphlet with the same glossy pages, for what he called a "taster" of the magazine.

The Messenger does not receive enough funding from the university at this point to print two issues. Olson said staff members hoped to publish a high-quality first issue in the hope that it would lead to more funding second semester.

In order to create the best possible first issue, the staff is working to publicize the new Oct. 5 deadline. They will be using banners and tables in the Commons, fliers and SpiderBytes messages.

In addition to the traditional publicity, Olson said she wanted to revamp the Messenger's Web site. The site was not updated at all last year. Initially, she wanted a Web editor to handle the renovation, but she said that she was ready to do it on her own now.

"I want a Web site where, when you arrive, you are drawn in and don't want to leave," Olson said. "I'd like it to be more interactive and maybe have some flash or drama."

She has recruited publicity assistants to help with the process. The staff is also planning on holding several interest meetings this semester.

With the new deadline, Messenger staff members will have to change the way they produce the magazine. First semester was traditionally spent gathering submissions, and second semester was devoted to production, including selecting pieces. The process will be condensed into one semester, making the staff more active throughout the year, Olson said.

After the Oct. 5 deadline, members of the five selection committees will choose pieces to be published in each section -- poetry, prose-fiction, prose-nonfiction, digital arts and art and photo.

The selection committees discuss each of the submissions and decide whether to publish blind, said Swartout. Only Patchen sees the author's or artist's name before publication, and she does not participate in selection. Submissions can be sent to or placed in the box in the Student Activities Office, he said.

Contact reporter Kaileigh Connolly at

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