On Feb. 8, 100 years ago, the front page of Vol. 1 No. 1 edition of The Collegian announced a secret marriage between “Mr. and Mrs. L.R. Nielson” (Mr. Nielson being the student body president at the time). The small ceremony was purportedly held in the foyer of what is now the Old Administration Building at Fresno City College before it was rudely interrupted.
“Their happiness was short-lived, for cruel world that it is, the study-bell pealed forth its harsh notes and called away the bridal party to classes.”
Poor Nielson, according to the article, was left to feel the cold breeze of his departing wife as he attempted to seal the marriage with a kiss but failed. Nielsen’s woes continued in the following issue of the Collegian on Feb. 22 when a missing gold pin, commonly worn by Mrs. Nielson, was discovered to have been lost in her ex-boyfriend’s car, the former student body president after a wild “auto ride” while Mr. Nielsen was at a club.
The satirical story is symbolic of the lighthearted nature of The Collegian in their early years. At the time, the twice-monthly paper primarily published stories on upcoming events, past events, and sports, along with some poetry and comic relief.
Looking at the early editions of The Collegian and comparing them to recent issues, there are obviously a lot of differences. The early stories were very short, and there was much more focus on covering all the events and happenings around campus. The stories are much longer and more in-depth in recent issues. However, throughout its history, The Collegian has provided a consistent record of happenings on campus. It has documented the plights of minoritized students and told the human stories of people through the physical archives.
“It’s just a great historical source for the university,” said Donald Munro, lecturer and Collegian editorial faculty advisor. “There really isn’t any other place that you can go that can tell the story of Fresno State over the years like The Collegian does.”
In contrast to the early editions of The Collegian, Editor-in-Chief Jannah Geraldo and Munro highlighted the Ashley Flowers’ Aug. 2022 story, “Fresno State students’ research recalls unsolved anti-LGBTQ+ crimes.” The 1,600-word article illustrates the maturity of a century-old institution that has trained leaders in journalism and advertising in our community and worldwide.
The Collegian is a student-run newspaper. The students make the final call on what they cover, how they will cover it and how the newspaper resources will be used. The faculty assist the students as needed, lecture in the corresponding classes and look over the final product to ensure it is safe from a legal standpoint.
Geraldo loves the involvement with the campus that the Collegian brings.
“Journalism, to me, is the opportunity to connect with the community.”
During the thick of the pandemic, Geraldo came on as a reporter at the Collegian in the Fall of 2020. She became a news editor and is now the editor-in-chief, the publication’s editorial leader overseeing the newspaper’s overall operations. She is a Media, Communications and Journalism major with the digital journalism option and a recipient of the Nathan Hathaway Collegian Scholarship.
Putting out the newspaper each week is a monumental task for the newspaper’s 20 students on staff.
“A lot of people…don’t know how much work goes into it,” Geraldo said. “I work with my managing editor Ashley Flowers, and we coordinate all of our editors who actually make the layout. It’s all done by students. We do all the reporting, all the photography. We do the story editing and the copy editing. Everything runs through the students.”
At just 21 years old, Geraldo said it was awkward, yet gratifying, for her to step into a leadership role with many other students a few years older than her.
“It’s really rewarding because I know that I’ve developed my skills enough to teach them how to work as a journalist.”
For students, The Collegian offers a unique opportunity to learn the media business while still being a student. Those students who work with the paper have the advantage of having that hands-on experience as they graduate and look for jobs. The Collegian offers students real-world experience on campus that can lead to well-paying jobs in media, advertising and beyond.
While The Collegian is among the last college newspapers in the CSU to still publish a print edition, there has also been an enormous effort to build the organization’s online presence. Geraldo says that as The Collegian continues to move into the digital age, the focus will still be on preserving the conversation about students on campus through multimedia delivery and printed paper.
“At the end of the day, we are really trying to communicate things for students. We are a student paper, all of us are students, and we are covering things that matter to them,” Geraldo said.