It’s 5 p.m. on a Friday, and Rozie Yeghiazarian, editor-in-chief of Reporter, stands in front of the magazine’s staff members to receive critiques about the current edition.
The staff isn’t shy with its reviews, pointing out production errors and better layout options—as well as praise for things they liked.
“This did catch a lot of my friends off guard, in a good way,” Yeghiazarian said about a cover story while recognizing the photo illustration creator for working out of their comfort zone. “This looks very rad. It’s great, great work.”
Some 50 RIT students are on the Reporter’s staff, doing everything from writing to photography, designing, illustrating, putting content online or on podcasts, and advertising (about $16,000 in ad revenue was collected this year). There are about a dozen core staff members and everyone is paid for work.
The publication is printed monthly off-site during the school year—with between 2,500 and 3,000 copies distributed on campus, at Lovin’ Cup and at Park Point. Online content comes out weekly, sometimes in the summer for major news, and new this year are podcasts that often follow online and print edition stories.
Reporter, which started in 1951, has always been run by students and has an advisory board and faculty adviser. “My role is somewhat limited unless they come to me,” said Communications Professor Rudy Pugliese, who has been Reporter’s adviser for more than 20 years. “Normally I hear from them if they have a problem, if they have a story that might offend someone, is libelous, obscene, disruptive of school operations or violates school policy. I don’t offer unsolicited advice, prior review, and never put myself in a position of censoring them.”
Yeghiazarian said her goal as editor isn’t to publish controversial articles, but more informational ones on issues. “Some things the administration might not like us to publish, but we try to cover things tactfully,” she said.
Reporter published a hard-hitting story years ago—when the staff received information about an award-winning teacher at RIT who claimed to have three degrees, but in fact had none. “It was a story we couldn’t overlook,” Pugliese said. The students got the information confirmed and published the story. The teacher left.
While exposé journalism may be the goal of many budding journalists, most of Reporter’s staff have other careers in mind.
“The biggest misconception is thinking you have to be a communications major to join Reporter,” Pugliese said. “The truth of the matter is, we need photographers, designers, business people, public relations people, advertising … there are a lot of things going on with Reporter other than writing.”
In recent years, the publication has won awards for writing and photography from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New York Press Association. Reporter staff members don’t receive college credit, but can add the work experience to their resumes.
Yeghiazarian, a fifth-year engineering management major from Hollywood, Calif., said she enjoyed writing for her engineering classes, but the topics were always very technical. “I’ve always enjoyed problem solving,” she said. “I want to have a variety of problems in front of me.”
Catie Rafferty, a second-year photojournalism major from Guilderland, N.Y., joined Reporter as a photographer in 2016 “for the experience of working for a magazine to help prepare me for what I could encounter after graduation, and to have more opportunities to make photographs in the community.”
Frankie Albin, a third-year applied arts and sciences major from Utica, N.Y., has written for Reporter for two years and currently is news editor.
“I met Reporter staff at the club fair my first week at RIT, and they were all really cool and totally convinced me to join,” he said. “The other part was my desire to keep writing, something I loved in high school but feared I would not have the opportunity to do while seeking a mostly technical degree.”
Potential stories are discussed weekly in staff meetings. “Reporter is a living, breathing being, and the content reflects the people working on it. The editors and writers change by the year, and sometimes by the semester, and the shape of Reporter kind of shifts and flows with it,” Albin said.
Albin said the skills he’s honed while working for Reporter are bound to help his career path. “I’ve learned everything from teamwork, to communication, attention to detail, leadership and even creativity from working at Reporter,” he said.
“While I probably won’t end up working for a publication after college, my ability to gather information and communicate and present it has already helped me tremendously with my more technical endeavors.”