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By Robert Gillespie
Mark Paustenbach '01 never worked on a publication before the fall of 1998. Then he and Daniel O'Connor '02 started one.
"We have amazing economics and government faculty, but we had no publication," said Paustenbach, editor of The Colby Reader. Called The Political Affairs Reader in its infancy, the non-partisan, student-run publication, which originally aimed at government, economics and history students, has grown into a 30-page quarterly covering cultural, social and economic issues as well as politics. About 50 of the 1,500 copies of each issue are mailed; the rest are placed in Colby dining halls, libraries and faculty mail boxes.
"I'm a political junkie," said Paustenbach, a government major who says he reads the Times online at 12:15 a.m. to get a jump on the next day's news. He also gets The New Republic, Roll Call, Time, The Economist, The New York Review of Books, The Sporting News, Mad and Rolling Stone and watches a lot of CNN "to find out what's going on. We live on a hill in a bubbleThe Colby Reader is a way to think about the outside world," he said. He thinks the magazine fosters "the kind of political discussion that should happen at Colby" and ties in with Colby's academics, too. International studies students learn in class, for instance, then analyze current events in the journal.
Each issue presents several articles on a theme. Last fall's election issue delivered pieces on the presidential candidatesincluding the candidates of the Green, Reform, Libertarian and Constitution partiesas well as an article on China by Associate Professor of East Asian Politics Suisheng Zhao, an interview about the war on drugs with a specialist on U.S.-Colombia relations, reviews of two books on the media and cartoons by Jeff Danziger of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. To bring in outside views, Paustenbach has conducted interviews by e-mail with the likes of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Shribman and pollster Peter D. Hart '64. He interviewed this year's Lovejoy fellow, journalist Bill Kovach, three days after the election in Colby's guest house. "It's fun to pick the brains of some of the smartest people in their respective fields," he said.
The magazine didn't have this scope initially, says Drew Bush '02, managing and layout editor, who copy edits and helps plan editorial meetings. An English major, Bush was photo page editor and chief editor of his Madison, N.J., high school newspaper, and his experience helped Paustenbach broaden the magazine's cultural and social coverage. Bush also revamped the entire layout.
"The way you present it focuses attention on the whole theme of the magazine," Bush said. "And you can pull in a lot of students, like English majors, through poetry or book reviews." Bush, who plans to attend journalism school, says the magazine is good training ground, and he is passing on layout skills to, among others, Joshua Christie '03, who is also the circulation manager.
Aided by Chris Schlosser '02, the journal's business director from the outset, The Colby Reader now receives Student Government Association funding and secured an office on the first floor of Leonard Hall. There the editorsincluding copy editor Briana Wright '02, "a really good, all-purpose writer," according to Paustenbachand others on the business side discuss the content of the next issue. Paustenbach says Assistant Professor of Government and International Studies Jennifer Yoder has provided the editors with good counsel, and Associate Professor of Government Anthony Corrado helps them land resources.
Corrado's research assistant on campaign finance, Paustenbach also has worked for Senator Diane Feinstein. Last fall he applied to graduate school in political science but said, "If not that, I'll probably end up in Washington."
And what will happen to The Colby Reader after Paustenbach, the only senior on the staff leaves? "It'll be interesting to find out," said Bush. "Mark gets together the larger picture. He's the driving force."
"I figure the magazine's organic, it grows and changes," Paustenbach said. "In five years it may talk about different things. It may have a conservative tone, depending on who's there." In any case, he's sure that others will be there to carry on.
"There's funding, so the magazine should continue," Paustenbach said. "I think it's a good investment for the College to make."
To subscribe to The Colby Reader, call 207-872-3847, send e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or write to The Colby Reader Subscriptions, c/o Student Activities, 5900 Mayflower Hill, Waterville, ME 04901. The magazine also has a Web site (www.colby.edu/par).
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