Extra! Extra! Read All about Mason’s Student Newspapers

Snoop Dogg

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Snoop Dogg, above, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, below, performed free concerts for Mason Day on the Quad in front of the Fenwick Library on the Fairfax Campus. Photo courtesy of University Libraries Special Collections and Archives

By Mark Schwartz, communications and marketing officer, University Libraries

You might have heard of Broadside, but have you ever heard of Fraudside?

A new exhibition on display in the Fenwick Library on the Fairfax Campus features archived materials from George Mason University’s student newspapers. The student newspaper exhibition is divided into two parts, drawing on materials in the student newspaper collection and the George Mason University Broadside Photograph collection, both from the University Archives.

“What’s in a Name?” explores the history of Mason’s student newspaper, which has been called The Gunston Ledger (1963–69), Broadside (1969–2013), and Fourth Estate (2013–present). (Fraudside was a special humor edition for April 1, 1999.)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers“Broadside Images in Context” exhibit explores Broadside through the eyes of seven student photographers, using images from the 1970s. One of the four display cases — filled with select photos taken by Keith Dorset — captures Billie Jean King practicing before a Virginia Slims tournament held on the Fairfax Campus.

In 2013, Mason’s Office of Student Media gifted more than 10,000 color and black-and-white images taken between the 1970s and 2001. Special Collections and Archives (SC&A) has been processing and preserving the vast array of images complementing the well-established collection of student newspapers.  Auxiliary Enterprise Management Council (AEMC) awarded SC&A a $10,000 grant to fund new scanning equipment and two student assistants to scan and research images.

“We are proud of this exhibition that celebrates Special Collections and Archives becoming home to the Broadside photograph collection. These photographs are vital for the visual documentation of Mason’s past — its people, events and culture — and expands Special Collections and Archives active role in preserving and promoting Mason history,” says Yvonne Carignan, SC&A head. “We look forward to making these images accessible online soon and to using the photographs in building new facets to George Mason University: A History online exhibition.”

Researchers may be surprised by what they discover in the collections of SC&A. For example, there are images of the Red Hot Chili Peppers — decades before Super Bowl XLVIII — and other musical acts, like the Violent Femmes, performing in front of Fenwick during Mason Day when the event was still held on the Quad.

But the exhibition does not merely hold a mirror up to the university’s past. An introductory quote from Colleen Wilson, a former editor of Fourth Estate, Mason’s current print and online student newspaper, frames the “What’s in a Name?” by addressing the future of student newspapers:

“A college newspaper has a unique monopoly on their market, and in turn, a unique challenge.  Especially in the Internet age, content must be highly engaging and modern while still addressing critical issues.  By drawing inspiration from publications like Buzzfeed to use gifs and videos along with traditional text to tell important stories about the Board of Visitors or Mason parking, Fourth Estate can stay relevant and interesting to a very distracted community of readers.  Innovation, both in content, platform and execution is key to a successful model for Fourth Estate.”

“What’s in a Name?” and “Broadside Photographs in Context” are on view in Fenwick Library (Wing A and C on the second floor) until April 2014.  SC&A will host a reception for the Mason community on Thursday, Feb. 27, from 1 to 2 p.m. For more information about the exhibition, collections or reception, contact SC&A at speccoll@gmu.edu or 703-993-2220.