By Jeniel Terrero
On Sept. 24, 2014, The Pioneer premiered the first issue for the 2014-2015 academic year, featuring a new masthead design. Excited about their new positions as co-editors-in chief, Maxime Devillaz, a junior Journalism major, and Alyssa Seidman, a sophomore Journalism major, decided to take full advantage of their titles, starting with a new masthead design. They received positive feedback about the new mast- head from students. However, they also received negative feedback.
“Several people felt offended by the pioneer in our logo. When we revealed the masthead in the first issue of the academic year, it never crossed our minds that it would be controversial until we heard those complaints,” Devillaz said. According to Seidman, the masthead seemed offensive to some since this pioneer is associated with a negative part of American history.
Prior to Devillaz and Seidman’s positions as co-editors-in-chief, The Pioneer’s masthead featured a weather vane, which is displayed on several buildings, like the one on Humanities. “We didn’t feel like that masthead related to anything we were trying to promote with our paper, or had anything to do with school spirit in any way,” Seidman said.
“When Max and I became co-editors of the paper, we wanted to revamp the entire thing, and that required changing our masthead,” Seidman added. “We toyed around with the design, and eventually kept the old typeface, but created a new logo to use right in the middle of the masthead. We decided to go for [the] angry-looking [pioneer] since it coordinated with the campus mascot.”
Although Devillaz and Seidman did not mean to offend anyone, Seidman explains that they were only looking to boost the image of their newspaper. “I don’t see any problem with our current masthead. We were only trying to exercise our creative liberty as co-editors.”
In an effort to have broad school support for the newspaper, Devillaz and Seidman decided to offer students the opportunity to design a new masthead. They ran a campus contest during the fall 2014 semes- ter, offering a prize for the student whose original masthead design was chosen.
Because only one entry was received, and the contest did not result in a new masthead, The Pioneer approached Professor Charles Conover, the Director of the Digital Arts and Design Program, Seidman explained.
Conover agreed to assign a masthead project for his digital ty- pography course. The project would give the editors of The Pioneer an opportunity to select a new masthead design from a range of options that are created by Post students.
Devillaz feels optimistic over student involvement with the paper. “The new masthead will be student-made, and completely new. We know that we can’t please everyone, but at least it’s a start to get something student-based and creative. I’m open for students to feel free to change the font, or whatever they want to do with the masthead along with the logo,” he said.
Although the search for a new design resulted from backlash, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Professor Conover acknowledges that creating this project has helped his students fur- ther build their portfolios. “For years, I’ve looked at the masthead and thought I [could] contribute some designs that would work [as] a better replacement. I’ve considered doing it myself, but it takes a lot of time, so when The Pioneer contacted me this year, I had the right class that would work on it. It was just perfect timing to get a class that would do this type of work, that’s when I agreed to do it,” he added.
Conover explains that he did not know what the editors from The Pioneer were looking for, but advised his students to approach their designs by giving the paper a traditional look that it needs. He showed his students mastheads used in other magazines and newspapers, and together looked through early advertising art, and old line of art that he thought could help The Pioneer achieve that traditional look.
The course working on the masthead, mainly composed of ju- niors and seniors, has had three weeks to work on their designs, mainly through the use of the Adobe Illustration program. “The students created multiple variations, and with my class I have my students creating more than one version of their designs,” said Conover. “This way, their client [The Pioneer] has options on what designs to choose from. Everyone who has worked on this project has created five or six versions of them, so The Pioneer will get a range of designs to choose from, with different variations [of each].”
Overall, Conover only wants his students to create professional quality work; something that they can include in their portfolios that will land them good jobs.
Devillaz and Seidman are unsure of when the new masthead will be revealed, but are hopeful that readers will be seeing the new design before the end of the semester. “It still has not been decided whether we’re going to keep the design as our permanent masthead, but it’s likely that we will leave the new design if we like it enough,” Seidman ex- plained.
The selected design will most likely be decided based on student votes, according to Devillaz. “The purpose behind The Pioneer is to value student voice, so ultimately with the new masthead, we want to hear from people and hear what they think, and maybe let them decide from there.”