September 7, 2009

A Brief History Of The Backpage/Former Editor-In-Chief Responds

According to the Vassar Encyclopedia:

"In the mid-1990s, the Miscellany also began to publish humorous stories and quips on its final page. At first, the back page held the calendar of school events and classified ads, and over time the writers added funny jokes to each description. From this format came a comedic page that often included satire of the school alongside the calendar. The Backpage continues today, entertaining readers and humorously critiquing the traditions of the school."

And from Brian Farkas '10's book Covering the Campus: A History of the Miscellany News at Vassar College:

"Numerous editors from other college papers, as well as journalists and professors who attended the conference [in 2008 sponsored by Bloomberg News], lauded the overall 2008 Miscellany, but considered the Backpage to be childish, distasteful, and unable to effectively satirize the College in any meaningful way."

Update: Just to clarify, the decision to remove the Backpage was voted on unanimously by the Misc's editorial board of 20 full-time student editors. Although we think Brian Farkas' book provides insight into this debate, Brian played no role in the Misc's decision.

Update 2: Another former Misc editor-in-chief is speaking up. "I agree very much with all the impassioned arguments Eliza and Molly and various other backpage writers and former misc editors and staff," Acacia O'Connor '08 wrote to us in an email. "I never guessed that things could move so far away so fast from the paper I worked so hard on... into a shrouded mouthpiece for student government and the administration," she adds.

Of her time at the Misc, Acacia writes, "It was what we loved doing, and something we felt was important - a (not always successful, of course) attempt to report, comment and criticize on the college and its relationship with the area surrounding."

"Our connection to the paper and our work there isn't broken by a couple years time," she writes. I know former EIC's from the '70s and '80s, and... I have no doubt that many of them, too, would shake their heads as we are currently doing."

Acacia is going to Italy in a few weeks on a Fulbright scholarship to teach English, as well as coach basketball and soccer. She also held a job at the Association of American Publishers this past year.

11 comments:

The Librarian said...

"Numerous editors from other college papers, as well as journalists and professors who attended the conference [in 2008 sponsored by Bloomberg News], lauded the overall 2008 Miscellany, but considered the Backpage to be childish, distasteful, and unable to effectively satirize the College in any meaningful way."

Ummmm have you ever met a college newpaper editor? These people wouldn't know humor or sarcasm if it bit them in the ass.

Molly said...

Because Brian Farkas is clearly a reliable unbiased person to be writing about this. Fuckhead.

Kyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kyle said...

Outside of any existing opinions of Brian Farkas, his comment just shows spinelessness. Instead of making a concerted decision to remove the Backpage under his own "regime," he waits until somebody else cancels it and then defames the section, its writers, and its editors. What type of leader does something like this? The answer is a very bad one. Or, at the very least, a very immature one. It is one thing to disapprove of something and figure out creative solutions to either ameliorate the situation or dispose of the problem. It's entirely another to throw your former co-workers and colleagues under a bus. I suppose that this is the type of leadership that emerges when you have a President and Board of Trustees as reliable, truthful, and respectful as Cappy and co.

This is just poor form on all sides, and as a Vassar alumn, I would really hope that Ruby Cramer, Brian Farkas, and the rest of The Miscellany News know that they are writing for Vassar campus. Believe me, as somebody who wrote for the Misc in a variety of roles and for a variety of sections during my time at Vassar, the Backpage is a relatively small reason why the Vassar College community finds the Misc to be fairly, and no offense intended, worthless.

farno22 said...

I guess I don;t get what all the uproar is about. Mads said in his original post that they were just moving the humor stuff to opinions. What's the big deal?

vassarpiglet said...

I think the bigger issue is that now humor is going to be mixed into the main paper -- i.e. in opinions. Part of the reason the backpage existed was to separate legitimate news from satire. As a former misc editor I think the loss is indeed a sad one, but one that's been brewing for a while. Personally I'd like to see the Backpage turn back into the calendar, complete with tea jokes...

vassarpiglet said...

I should also add that I was the sports editor for a time, and we had trouble filling 2 pages let alone 3...why give another page to sports?!

geralddude said...

I wonder if Acacia knows that there was no Backpage in the 70s and 80s...

Phil said...

I'm sitting in the Rose Parlor now waiting for tea but there is none to be found. If only I had a backpage to tell me when the delicious tea is being served!

Nurse said...

Guys this is not that big a deal. There will still be humor in the Misc and if the editors think this is a positive step in the layout of the misc I think we should respect that. There are bigger issues on Campus that should be getting as much attention as the decision to cut ONE page of the school newspaper. I mean really , chill out.

The Librarian said...

Wow Nurse, how's your position on the Misc's editorial board.

NARC!