About two months ago The Hilltop, the student newspaper of Howard University, made history by being the first HBCU to publish a daily newspaper.
Prior to February 28, 2005, the Hilltop came out twice a week on Tuesdays and Friday’s. Friday’s edition, April 15, 2005, was the last of the academic year and the 2004-2005, Editor in Chief Ruth Tisdale looked back to reflect on going from biweekly to daily.
Ms. Tisdale said that the biggest challenge since the paper went daily has been staying on top of the news and reporting things that are timely. She went onto say that it was an issue that applied to all sections. “Whether it was something going on in the world to the latest album dropping to an entertainer getting jailed.”
The Hilltop, co-founded by Howard alumnus Zora Neale Hurston,has come a long way since 1929, when it had an original distribution schedule of a bimonthly newspaper. However, the paper’s first edition was published on January 22, 1924 and six years later it became a weekly paper. The newspaper went biweekly in 2001 under then Editor-in-Chief Jason Smith.
Ms. Tisdale said that the paper went daily because it was decided that student journalists needed to start preparing for life after college. “A lot of great student journalists were overlooked when the time came to apply for a job because they didn’t have any ‘daily’ experience.”
So, The Hilltop going daily is a great resume builder. This decision is also helping students to see what the real world is like. It doesn’t stop at the writing aspect, it includes going to meetings more often and staying on top of the news.
Yet, Ms. Tisdale said that going from biweekly to a daily newspaper has been a lot of easier. She said “We’re [section editors and staff writers] not down here till 4 in the morning anymore.”
Maxine Moffet, a Nation and World Editor, for The Hilltop agrees. “Before, even though the paper only came out twice a week, it was harder. As an editor I had about three to four pages to fill with at least 16 stories. Now it’s only 12 stories a week.”
Moffett went on to say that, “For me it was great to be a part of history and I hope this effort continues to uphold the standards that has preceded this paper.” Last year The Hilltop received the honor of the Best Collegiate Newspaper in the nation by the Princeton Review.
Over time, the paper has served as an outlet for students to express their concerns over campus and world issues and to also stay informed of those same issues. But some Howard students like Chenoa Alexander, a sophomore majoring in Nutrition Sciences, said “Ever since The Hilltop went daily I feel as if they don’t write about real news anymore.”
In response to that Ms. Tisdale said, “We try our best and it’s been learning experience for the editors. We’re always listening to the readers, so that it’s truly the voice of Howard University students.”