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Maroon Focus: The Brackety-Ack in 2010


Lindsey Van Leir – Staff Writer

Among Roanoke College’s many publications—daily email updater, the Roanoke College newsletter, literary magazine, etc.—there is the school’s weekly newspaper, The Brackety-Ack. Usually available by the entrance to the Commons, many may have noticed that the paper is M.I.A. as of late.

Since it started in 1917, the weekly paper has provided the RC community with the current national and campus-wide news. It’s covered everything from the two world wars to the infamous establishment of Mac and Bob’s in the late 70’s. What sets the paper apart from other RC publications is that it is and has always been a student project. Students pick the articles, students write the articles and students design the layout. It was also the students who in the first years of publication decided the name by holding a campus-wide competition. “The Brackety-Ack” won for its whimsical nature.

            In recent years, students worked daily to prepare the paper for the following Friday print deadline. Articles are assigned Sunday night and due by Wednesday afternoon. Thursday night the paper is organized and edited, and the final product is in your hands by Friday at noon. Again, you might be used to grabbing a copy on your way to lunch on Friday afternoons. So, sorry you are missing your crossword and Dr. P column but The Brackety-Ack has undergone some changes.

            After almost one-hundred years, technology has allowed the paper to develop in layout, content and now, delivery. This day, Friday, Sept. 17, 2010 is The Brackety-Ack‘s first full-length on-line publication. Instead of printing weekly, the paper can now be accessed through your browser at www.brackety-ack.pages.roanoke.edu.

This is different from previous publications that were included on Facebook in the event there was a printing obstacle. While Facebook may help networking and visibility for the newspaper, having an official website of its own makes the paper more visible for prospective students and community members. They no longer have to visit the campus to get a copy. It is the paper’s way of “keeping up with the Jones’s,” since all the big name and many other college newspapers are available on-line.

This is a big step of change for the paper. If the change becomes permanent, it will affect staff positions and deadlines. Current Editor in Chief, Cody Sexton ’11, said “I’m happy that we’ve finally been pushed to go on-line.”

Historically, the college orders 1,000 copies per week for campus circulation. Readership of the paper format is estimated to be 400 copies. The paper’s webpage will have counters on it to keep track of the hits. Sexton said that to start out with roughly 500 hits would be a “good goal” for the paper.

“Putting The Brackety-Ack on-line is a new adventure… I hope to see more student involvement than ever before,” said Valerie Maldonado ’12, managing editor.

The Brackety-Ack webpage publication also saves paper (and ultimately money for the school). This is more aligned with RC’s goals of environmental consciousness, and in particular with the latest addition of the bike rentals available at Fintel Library and the LEED certified Lucas Hall. Though these are results of the decision to go on-line, the decision was not made out of any collaboration between the paper staff and RC Sustain.


  1. I think this is great that the Brackety-Ack is going online, it adds a whole new dimension to the college paper,it also allows alumni who moved out of the area to stay updated with current RC News, but I feel like the paper shouldn’t stop be printed all together on paper because I always liked sitting down in the commons on sundays and reading the paper or grabbing one on my way to class to read real quick.

    Yes it is nice to keep up with the Jone’s especially when it comes to technology, but sometimes its just nice to read a good ole black and white newspaper, we already spend enough time behind our computer screens.

    Yes this will save a whole bunch of paper

  2. I want to second Natasha’s comments about the “evolution” of the paper. One should not assume that new technology always leads to superior products and solutions. Just because the Brackety-Ack “can” be posted exclusively on-line doesn’t necessary mean that it should. And while major newspapers around the country have websites, they still offer their consumers a hard copy of the paper. Like Natasha pointed out, there is something to be said for a “good ole back and white newspaper” to hold in your hands and read in class or during lunch in the Commons.

  3. No where in the article does it say the Brackety-Ack will no longer appear in print version.

    Writers cannot (or, are not supposed to) include their opinions in their work. I certainly agree that there is a quality to a printed newspaper that cannot be beaten or improved. It was not my duty to present that position; my assignment was only to report of the changes made and the effects.

    Student feedback is a whole ‘nother story 😉

  4. Lindsay, your comment implies that you are the author of this piece but I don’t see any other attribution on this page. I hope your editors will fix that–or point me to where I am overlooking it.

    And the article certainly leads (misleads?) the reader into thinking the Brackety-Ack will no longer be printed. Why else would you write that the webpage “saves paper” or “Instead of printing weekly, the paper can now be accessed through your browser”?

    Todd was my professor. He has made many many public blunders I would be happy to recount, but misreading your article is no one of them. 🙂

  5. I want to join in the chorus here. I would like to know who made the decision to cut the paper publication and why. It is certainly true, as Lindsay says, that it is good to have an online edition and that other schools do so, but do they not have paper editions as well? What does Cody mean when he says you were “pushed” to go online? Was this a student decision?

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