Collegiate Times shifts to new digital medium

Blacksburg, May 3 – AN EXTRA ISSUE: A recent issue of the Collegiate Times commemorating the senior class. Photo: Ricky Lam.

by Ricky Lam and Megan Newhard–

As more users are getting their news online, many publications are forced to learn and adapt to the digital age, including college publications like the Collegiate Times.

“In a nutshell, our focus has really changed to where we’re putting stories online and sometimes we put them in print,” said Matthew Jones, former editor-in-chief of the Collegiate Times.

According to The Atlantic, print newspaper advertising revenue dropped from $60 billion to $20 billion between 2000 and 2015. USA Today reports that advertising and subscription revenue has been steadily dropping as digital media is becoming more prominent for readers. Major news publications have responded to this issue by stepping into the online world.

The Collegiate Times is one example where the daily newspaper format has been switched to one issue per week. The college newspaper has shifted more towards a digital approach where news stories are posted on a 24-hour basis, while the print version reflects on the greatest hits of the week.

“This year we’ve been really focusing on making our print products something really special. It’s more timeless content; content that’s extremely relevant to students,” Jones said. “Content that will still make sense in a week and we try to make it the best of what we publish online.”

One of the major reasons why the Collegiate Times shifted their focus to a more digital approach was because their printing facility was shut down. Printing expenses spiked up which prompted the newspaper to allocate their resources elsewhere.

Many news stories that readers consume have become more than the standard image and text. Reporters are now able to utilize various mediums and create multimedia content that best fits the context of the news story.

One of the major stories that the Collegiate Times was able to cover was creating a digital experience by providing updates to William Morva’s execution. While the print industry is slowly declining, some believe that the medium will not completely die off due to the prominence of digital news.

“With print, you have a documentation in your hand of what happened. And that’s something you can’t change. It’s just something cool and tangible that keeps you updated on what’s going on,” said Jessica Brady, the current editor-in-chief of the Collegiate Times.

“I think there’s still something really special about holding a newspaper. Your newspaper is never going to have live updates or 3-D interactive experiences,” Johns said. “There’s definitely some drawbacks on print, but I think people still appreciate having a newspaper. I think there will continue to be a niche market for it.”

As more newspapers are moving towards an online subscription-based model and a more digital experience, journalists are becoming aware of new ways to catch readers’ attention in the rapidly growing technological age.

Active Minds raises their voice on mental health awareness

Blacksburg, April 19 – LOBBY CHECK-IN: Members of Active Minds check students tickets before they enter the benefit concert and give them a raffle ticket. Photo: Ricky Lam.

by Ricky Lam–

With more counts of depression and suicide looming across universities, a group of students remains resilient in starting a conversation on the issue.

Active Minds is a nonprofit organization aimed at spreading mental health awareness across all college campuses. With the chapter at Virginia Tech, the organization hopes to create a comfortable environment for students to speak openly about mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, 41.6 percent of students struggle with anxiety while 36.4 percent struggle with depression. Emily Wills, the president of Active Minds, hopes to reduce the percentages by rectifying issues present on the Tech campus.

Everybody knows that the counseling center is full and they’re trying to work on that, but it’s just not fast enough. You go saying you need help and your first appointment is a month out. It’s just not the level of care that we really need on this campus,” Wills said.

According to Neumann, suicide is the second-leading cause of death amongst 20 to 24-year-olds. CBS News reports that most public colleges don’t collect suicide statistics.

“Suicide is kind of shunned. Everyone thinks that if you talk about it then it’ll increase it more, but really, hiding it doesn’t help at all,” Wills said.

On April 19, Active Minds hosted a benefit concert to raise money and bring “Send Silence Packing” to campus. Project manager, Siddhi Kodolikar, led the event with a small team and managed to accumulate $800 to go towards Active Minds’ efforts.

“It is a tour that comes and sets up backpacks in an area and it symbolizes the amount of college student suicides in a year. It’s kind of a big display to show, ‘hey it’s okay to talk about this. It’s not just something we hear about in the news every once in a while,’” Kodolikar said.

By providing information to students about other resources they can access and hosting other events to promote a stress-free environment, the organization hopes to end the mental health stigma and tell students in need that they see them and hear them.

Blacksburg, April 19 – PRESIDENT OF ACTIVE MINDS: Emily Wills greets students entering the benefit concert at Haymarket Theater. Photo: Ricky Lam.

Hokies march for their lives

District of Columbia, March 24 – FIGHT FOR CHANGE: Colleen Cassidy listens to a student speaker on stage. “I almost feel like a fraud. When I say a shooting happened here, I feel tied to it even though I wasn’t there. It’s like you didn’t have to go through it, and you still feel responsibility and that’s what being a Hokie is all about at the end of the day,” Cassidy said. Photo: Ricky Lam.

by Ricky Lam–

Two Hokies holding paper signs marched with hundreds of people on Pennsylvania Avenue, demanding a better future for the children of America.

It was very powerful,” said Chyna Murphy, a sophomore at Virginia Tech. “Just feeling that many people there and looking to your left and seeing people crying and everyone’s so emotional from everything. That was definitely amazing.”

“March for Our Lives” occurred on March 24th, 2018 in the District of Columbia with 800 sibling events throughout the nation and across the world. Two months after the Parkland shootings, the protest was organized by students for more gun control legislation.

“I feel like our generation especially is so desensitized to hearing about massive shootings now because they happen all the time. Seeing someone who’s experienced it and hearing their story just makes you want to take action that much more,” said Colleen Cassidy, a junior at Virginia Tech.

With constant news reports on gun shootings in schools, many people from those afflicted areas showed up, including Hokies like Cassidy and Murphy who traveled four hours up to the nation’s capital. The Virginia Tech representation and student speeches were the highlights of both of their days.

“Just knowing that past Hokies had to go through exactly what the students speakers had to go through was heartbreaking,” Cassidy said. “I saw so many people wearing Virginia Tech clothing that it was like, we all kind of had the same goal here. We all are such a tight-knit community and I think that what happened only brought the Virginia Tech community closer.”

“As a Hokie, I really went out to show my support for stopping gun violence and I kind of felt at home,” Murphy said. “To know that so many people were feeling the same way that I feel about the topic and just being able to hear the speeches of so many people that were 18 and under.”

According to Vox, the rallies gathered at least 1.2 million people across the nation with the D.C. march accumulating anywhere between 200,000 to 800,000 people. USA Today estimates that the march is one of the largest single-day protests in D.C.

Cassidy believes that participating in the march could spark better change and end the number of fatalities across the nation.

“You still have the presence kind of lingering on campus and when you talk about it in classes or you pass the memorial, you just realize that it happened here. You want to take responsibility for what happened and have other Hokies’ backs,” Cassidy said.


Click the image to see the full version of the infographic.

Student manages new cafe in downtown Blacksburg

Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 26 – A NEW BUSINESS: Foamo opened its doors on February 17 with many customers lining up from the cash register to out the doors in order to try the items offered. Photo: Ricky Lam.

by Ricky Lam–

A new business has surfaced in downtown Blacksburg run completely by an undergraduate student and his brother.

“I was on my way back home and as I’m passing by the Blacksburg roundabout, I see a ‘for rent’ sign. I checked out the place, called my mother and had a serious conversation about potentially opening up a business here. I spent the entire first semester of junior year coming up with a business plan on what I wanted to do,” said Youssef Rhanime.

Rhanime, an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech, is the co-owner of Foamo, a cafe that serves coffee, crepes and rolled ice cream. While some may think Rhanime is young to run a business, according to a Forbes article, the best age to start a business depends on the maturity of the industry as well as the stage of one’s maturity. As both a student and business owner, Rhanime spends his time constantly switching between two worlds.

“It’s been tough because obviously double majoring and trying to build a business from scratch means you have no time for other things. But my family is super supportive and my friends are the best so they’ve eased the process,” Rhanime said. “I definitely have a hard time showing up to class, but I do well enough that I can show up for the exams and still do well at the end of the semester.”

Along with Rhanime, his older brother moved from Orlando to Blacksburg in order to help him construct and run the business. Rhanime’s wife, Hafsa Malik Rhanime, also helped develop the marketing plan and branding for the business.

“How I found out was a surprise. He randomly called me because he wanted to show me something one night. It was pretty late and I remember pulling into the parking lot with my best friend and Youssef like, ‘Where are we going? Mill Mountain is closed,’” Malik Rhanime said. “That’s when he walked us into the empty, destructed space — where Foamo would soon be constructed, and shared his whole vision: floor plans everywhere with lots of questions, excitement and surprise. That’s when all the remarks he made in the past about starting a business clicked in my head.”

While Foamo might seem like a regular cafe, Rhanime hopes the business supports his endeavors in giving back to the community. Eventually, Rhanime wants to donate a percentage of his profits to aiding the Roanoke Refugee Partnership. According to a Roanoke Times article, over 800 refugees have been accepted into Roanoke since 2011 where 21 are Syrian.

“I love Blacksburg and I have a passion for service so the goal is to work for the community and those in need to make sure I’m doing everything I can to share the wealth,” Rhanime said. “A huge part of me not wanting a nine-to-five [job] is so that I have the time to work with impoverished populations without the worry of not being financially secure.”