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Life between the covers

VENKATESH BALAKRISHNAN
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youth Campus magazines capture the pulse of student life and provide a creative space for students, writes VENKATESH BALAKRISHNAN

BRAINSTORMINGThe editorial team at a sessionPhoto: Special Arrangement
BRAINSTORMINGThe editorial team at a sessionPhoto: Special Arrangement

College life is about coming of age, and what better way to share, celebrate and record the experiences of those years than a campus magazine? A few colleges have managed to overcome logistic and editorial challenges to bring out popular digests, month after month.

Campus magazines are typically less than 50 pages long, limited to a few themes and intended for internal consumption.

Imprint, the campus magazine of SASTRA, Thanjavur, was launched two years ago. It has a readership of 3,500 and covers all activities on premises. Asma Afreen, one of its first editors, says, “Being engineering students, it took us quite some time to understand how a paper should be run and establish a work flow.” Getting into the editorial board appears to be tough. Editor Tejas Kinger says, “We have a stringent selection process where candidates are asked to write opinion pieces on current affairs and key issues, and are tested on their command over the language, grammar and general awareness.” In keeping with strict control over quality of content, the magazine rarely accepts readers’ contributions and publishes only English articles, two factors likely to change in the future, with an eye on increasing readership.

Recent editions have focused on the technical and cultural festivals in the college and their reception by the student community. Abhinav Srinivasan, a reader, says, “I never miss the editorial and I always read the articles that are campus-centric. But I’m not keen on reports about events that everyone already knows about.” To enlarge the reach of the magazine, an attempt is underway to upload it on the college website. Though the editor acknowledges the magazine is subject to censorship by college authorities, he is proud it is completely run by students with limited financial assistance from the college management.

Readers’ contribution enjoys pride of place in Feeds , the monthly magazine of National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi, initially mentored by an English daily. Besides a cover story, the magazine features regular reports of campus events, debates on current issues, reviews of movies, computer games and music releases, and ‘fake news’, with hilarious anecdotes of what would and probably should happen, inspired by a website with a similar name. To engage the problem-solving mind there are puzzles, crosswords and kakuro, a number game.

Like Imprint, Feeds is distributed free, ensuring a readership around 2000. “We have an e-edition and ensure it reaches the alumni association,” notes editor Ahamed Rasmi, adding that a blog is on the anvil. With the double-edged sword of no censorship, the magazine has criticized college infrastructure and academics, though its criticism is often soft and laced with humour.

Campus magazines regularly incorporate changes in design to break away from monotony. Considerable time, labour and money goes into the cover page, as editorial teams believe that many do judge a book by its cover. Colour pages are a fairly recent trend, due to high costs associated with them. When it comes to content, there is little engagement with social or political issues. Srinivas Kandasamy, reader of Feeds, observes, “Actual issues get little coverage, focus is more on gimmicks like puzzles.”

However, these magazines are young and open to change. As Ambarish Vaidyanathan, co-editor, Feeds, points out, “The magazine publishes feedback every month, both positive and negative.”

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