If you thought that with a name like The Rebel Yell, a college newspaper would have no trouble recruiting students, you'd be right. “We have about 40 of 40 positions filled. I did recently let a couple of positions go… because money became an issue. We are entirely self-sufficient (aside from printing costs),” said Aaron Clemens, The Rebel Yell's editor-in-chief. He recruits by speaking to classes, placing house ads in the paper and putting up flyers around campus.
Clemens has been with the paper for two years full time, plus two years as a contributor. Most of the editors have one to three years at the paper. Most of the staff are Communications and Liberal Arts majors because the school doesn't offer a journalism degree.
Another reason Clemens doesn't have too much trouble getting staff is because the newspaper uses state-of-the-art equipment and pays well. “I increased salaries by a great deal. We now have several people who can make up to $1,000 a month and we bought new computers, switched to digital photography ($2,000 camera). We are also creating a searchable database for our two and a half years of online archives, we keep sending people to work professionally after graduation,” he said. The newspaper also ensures that any “administrative incompetence is criticized” and applies for, and wins, awards.
Newspapers will eventually all be available for personal digital assistant, but the hard copy will continue to be available in the future. Advertising is going on-line because it's easier to track for the buyers and easier to target.
Is it difficult to find staff at the beginning and end of the semesters? “No because we hire at the end of the year for the next year and at the end of the year, anyone who would drop out could be replaced” Clemens said.
He feels time constraints are the hardest thing about being on a student newspaper staff. “Since I became news editor then editor in chief (EIC), I've been spending 60 to 80 hours a week here. It is sometimes hard to see my girlfriend.”
Clemens said the best thing about being editor-in-chief of the newspaper is freedom. “I am chief executive official (CEO) and chief financial official (CFO) of this, so I only write when nobody else can. I've already interned at a daily in Las Vegas, so I don't need any more clips, I got 50 last summer.”
Clemens has quite a basis for comparison for whether this is a good job, too. He's been in the grocery business for five years, worked on a successful congressional campaign, interned at the District Attorney's Office, worked as a bank teller for eight months, served as a student senator and interned at the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneureship at Georgetown.
Along with the management of operating a newspaper or any media outlet came the potential for legal problems, and the Rebel Yell has had theirs.
"We were threatened by someone who said they would pull all their funding from our university because their son told us, in his drunken stupor, that he would like to also be 'homecoming queen.' We worked it out without any litigation, but we have several attorneys who would defend us because we are part of the Nevada university system," said Clemens.
As far as the newspaper's immediate future goes, Clemens said he wants to expand the staff and pay them more (he hired a second news editor this year).He also wants to improve the online version and get more advertising, and to be published over the summer. But his main focus is to continue being a rebel. “Overall, we just need to keep the heat on those people who try to screw up our university, either from the inside or the outside.”
This article was conducted through e-mail interviews.