A new coach on campus, ready to lead the football team to victory. A guest speaker lecturing. Alumni speaking about what they’re doing now that they’ve graduated. These might sound like events happening on Otterbein’s campus right now, but they are actually news stories that appeared in the first issue of the Tan & Cardinal newspaper on Sept. 17, 1917. That four-page paper was the first of countless issues of the Tan & Cardinal to cover both life on campus and in the world at large once a week, every week. Today, students might not realize that the magazine they are so familiar with was once a newspaper. Its glossy cover, colorful photographs and bold logo make the T&C magazine unmistakable on Otterbein’s campus. Along with tandcmedia.org, the student news website, the magazine still shares the mission of the newspaper it evolved from. Together the website and magazine tell important stories, and tell them well. As of fall 2017, the Tan & Cardinal has succeeded in telling those stories for 100 years.
Take a trip to Otterbein’s archives in the basement of the library and you’ll see rows of neat, leather-bound books lining the shelves. Inside are hundreds of copies of the Tan & Cardinal newspaper covering everything from World War I and 9/11 to the election of former President Barack Obama. The issues chronicle Otterbein throughout the years, and it is easy to get lost in the pages and pages of history. Why, then, did the communication department decide to transition from a weekly news publication to a magazine published twice a semester? The switch happened under Dr. Hillary Warren’s time as Tan & Cardinal advisor, and though it wasn’t an easy change, it was a necessary one.
“We realized that students needed experience running a website more than producing a newspaper,” said Warren. “But we still wanted to keep some kind of print component.”
There were months of discussions and meetings, some of which ended in tears as students and staff struggled with the decision to end the weekly newspaper. Many students worried about ending the long legacy of the paper and changing a publication that was important to so many alumni. In those meetings, it was easy to see the emotional attachment so many had to the Tan & Cardinal newspaper.
“The newspaper was still a darn good paper,” said current T&C advisor, Mike Wagner. “But we felt that to adjust to the modern age of journalism, a website and magazine was a better way to go for the development of our students.”
The first issue of the new T&C magazine was published in fall 2013 and was accompanied by Otterbein’s online media presence, tandcmedia.org. Previously, some students had produced a magazine called 1847 for a January Term course prior to Otterbein’s switch from quarters to semesters. However, in 2013, 1847 ceased to make way for the T&C magazine, born of the newspaper and bearing a shortened version of the well-respected name Tan & Cardinal. Unlike the newspaper, which was produced weekly, or 1847, a class exercise published once a year, the T&C magazine would be produced twice each semester. Nonetheless, it would still maintain the standards and mission of the Tan & Cardinal newspaper in being the voice of students on campus. With that, Otterbein entered its current era of magazine journalism. Still, most alumni will always associate the name Tan & Cardinal with black and white newsprint.
Throughout its time in print, the Tan & Cardinal has covered a wide range of stories, from hard-hitting news to lighter weekly segments. Lists of who was most recently drafted into World War I might be published beside announcements of recent engagements or winners of the freshman-sophomore tug-o-war match. It covered changes in university policy as well as Greek-life shenanigans. It also covered the highs and lows of Cardinal athletics, from a time when the university used to go up against schools like The Ohio State University and Miami University, to the current rivalry with Capital University.
Recurring sections included mainstays like sports, entertainment and local and global news. Movie and book reviews, cartoons and letters to the editor came and went over the years. In the 70s, a weekly section called “Who’s Whose” gave the names and affiliations of who had been pinned, engaged or married in the Greek community. As a magazine, the current T&C has done away with some of these familiar features, revamped others and added some new ones of its own. Flip through its pages and you’re likely to find recurring features such as “Alumni with Cool Careers”, “Where in the World Are You From?” and “By the Numbers”.
The Tan & Cardinal has always focused on writing quality, well-rounded stories, garnering the attention of outside parties. The publication has received awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the Ohio Newspaper Association, the Associated Collegiate Press and the Ohio News Media Association. From the 1940s to as recently as 2017, both the Tan & Cardinal newspaper and magazine have been impressing the journalistic community with their skillful editorial writing, news coverage and overall design. But this reputation has only been maintained because of the skill and passion of those contributing to the publication.
“The T&C has been a testing ground over many decades for aspiring journalists and writers to share their voice in a community forum,” said Otterbein President, Kathy Krendl. “In the process, students have benefited from hands-on experience in developing important skills.”
The Tan & Cardinal has always aimed to simulate what it is like to work for a professional publication. It gives students valuable experience in writing, publishing and working with media, and has served many Otterbein alumni well. Former editors and staff members of the Tan & Cardinal have gone on to hold a variety of prominent positions in media and other areas. Tan & Cardinal alumni have worked for companies like The Washington Post, 10TV News and Dressage Today magazine. They have reported for regional newspapers across the country, corresponded for major news networks and one alumnus is even a retired federal judge.
Still, others have become teachers, writers, parents and volunteers. From being part of a prestigious publication to achieving success in their careers and personal lives, working for the Tan & Cardinal has proved a valuable way for students to develop and hone skills they’ll find useful, even essential, later in life.
The Tan & Cardinal gives more than just professional or publishing experience. For many, it was a home away from home, and a place to do what they loved. Many alumni still view their time writing for the Tan & Cardinal as central to their college experience, and where they made some of their favorite memories. Whether it be writing a story that stuck with them, late nights scrambling to put the paper together on time or meeting close friends or a future spouse, the newspaper, magazine and website have proven to be more than just sources of news. They bring people together, both within their staffs and the community.
“We felt the pressure to get our pages done quickly, but we also laughed a lot,” said Otterbein alumna, Becky Mizer Chamberlin, class of ’93. “The experience helped me start to understand the interesting balance between camaraderie and competition.”
That balance leaned toward camaraderie for alumna Heather Thompson, class of ‘06.
“Two of my best friends today were on staff with me,” said Thompson. “I loved our Wednesday nights in the T&C lab, all of us bleary-eyed by the end of the night from looking at copy again and again… It was an awesome experience and one that helped launch my career.”
For many past staff members, time on the Tan & Cardinal was filled with late nights, shared meals and working towards a common goal. This close bond and sense of unity is something Wagner and current editors Kris Crews and Sara Anloague are still working to achieve each semester with the magazine. Wagner has been writing for the Columbus Dispatch for 11 years and has been the advisor for the T&C for the past seven years. As an investigative reporter, he has had plenty of experience documenting news for Columbus readers, and he uses that knowledge to guide his students through the writing process, from pitching stories to polished final pieces.
But the Tan & Cardinal isn’t just important to the Communication Department or to those creating it—it’s an institution in the Otterbein community as a whole, a way for students to grow more familiar with their campus while still staying in touch with the world around them.
“The T&C strives to represent all walks of student life at Otterbein,” said Taylor Numbers, former editor and alumna of the class of ‘16. “From drag queens to deaf teachers to students with disabilities, the staff seeks out those individuals who may go unnoticed on a day-to-day basis and shines a spotlight on them. That’s why the magazine is important.”
The magazine carried on the idea of connecting students, staff and others from its newspaper past.
“When I was working for the T&C we didn’t have internet, email or Facebook,” said Marv Nevans, a member of the class of ’65 and former photographer for the paper. “Everyone read newspapers and connected to the community through them.”
Connecting can feel hard to do these days. Especially on a college campus, where students are somewhat cut off from the “real world” and have their own stresses to worry about. It’s easy to become too absorbed in the day-to-day routine of class, work and sleep. That’s why student media is so crucial. As a newspaper, the Tan & Cardinal bridged the gap between campus and the rest of the world, keeping students informed about the large and small communities they inhabited. As a magazine, the publication’s focus has shifted more internally, to connecting students to professors and people of different backgrounds and beliefs with each other. Pick up a recent copy of the T&C and you’re guaranteed to learn something new about Otterbein, its students and the connections that make this campus a community. The T&C plans to keep writing stories and building those connections for another hundred years.