The Scroll: Not Your Parents’ Newsletter

Guest Blogger Emily Roper

While sitting in the university coffee shop this morning, I took a minute to look around at the people with whom I was sharing a space.  As ought to be expected in a coffee shop, nearly everyone in the room clutched a Starbucks cup and a few spread cream cheese on bagels.  Aside from food and drink, however, the only thing everyone in the room had in common was their solitude.  The exception, an older man and an older woman, sat immersed in conversation at the center of the coffee shop, but all of us college students, us millennials, sat alone at different tables.  Even those who were together were not interacting.  One girl came in, approached a table at which a boy was sitting and asked if she could sit.  The pair never exchanged another word.

What was it that kept us from engaging with one another?  You guessed it: technology.  Our parents warned us it was making us antisocial and would lead to the decline of society, but they weren’t there to lecture us, so there we all sat, starting our day with a cup of coffee and a nice dose of isolation.

As much as the baby boomers like to complain about millennials, however, I’d like to take a minute to insist that our way isn’t that different from theirs.  Sure, we stare at screens all day, but they forget from whom we learned our habits.  My dad has always complained about how it would drive his mother crazy when my grandfather would sit at the breakfast table and read the newspaper, ignoring everyone present with him except to grunt at them to pass the sausage.  When he left the table, he took the paper to the bathroom with him. Yet every morning at my house begins with the Cincinnati Enquirer and The New York Times piled up on the table, and it isn’t strange for one of my parents to be found sitting at that table with their nose in the paper, sipping a cup of coffee.  I would imagine that I am not the only one who comes from a house like this.

I ended up sitting in the coffee shop writing this post, but I started it on my email, reading a news briefing from The New York Times that took me to a few articles of interest from the newspaper.  So I started the day just like my parents, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper; I just had a different way of doing it.

As I got up to discard my trash, I was reminded why I start my day on my phone or computer rather than with a hard copy of a newspaper.  A copy of the school newspaper, The Pendulum, caught my eye.  The headline of the paper was an article about drugs at Elon.  I had read this exact story a week ago on Facebook.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 9.28.12 AMIt wasn’t precisely this story that went into the decision to revamp the English Department newsletter (obviously since that decision was made long before my coffee shop musing), but it was thousands like it.  Each one of us involved in the making of the new newsletter has had an experience like this, and that’s exactly why the old hard copy newsletter had to go.

“What’s engaging?” we asked ourselves.  This was the department newsletter before The Scroll was born:

While attractive and informative as newsletters go, none of us in the class had ever heard of The Back Cover before we were asked to redesign it, and no matter how well it may be written or how pretty it might be, a newsletter is no good if no one reads it.

So what did we do?  Post-Its!

282 Brainstorm BoardWe came up with more than a hundred ideas for how to increase the readership of the newsletter and different formats with which to deliver the content.  Stone obelisk was out of the question, but we all kept coming back to one thing: the Internet.  It was time for the English Department newsletter to join the 21st Century.

It is time for the millennials to shine and to use that technology our parents warned us about to our advantage.  With a new name, The Scroll, the English Department newsletter is coming to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and an online blog will tie it all together.  Hashtags, 140 characters, square pictures, likes, and shares aren’t just the ways millennials connect anymore; they’re the new way the English newsletter will be seen.  So find The Scroll wherever you are, and remember: it’s not your mother and father’s newsletter.

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