As the internet keeps redefining the meaning of “publication,” virtually all American newspapers now publish a digital edition, and have done for many years. And then, there’s the Quest.
For 98 years, the independent student newspaper remained stubbornly confined to print. Then, last semester, editors Andrew Choi ’13, Johnny Flores ’13, En-Szu Hu-Van Wright ’13, Ethan Knudson ’11, and Katy Joseph ’11 made a momentous announcement—the beacon of journalism was going online!
Blood pressure in certain offices in Eliot Hall went through the roof. As many classmates remember, the Quest has a somewhat checkered history. At its best, it has provided the campus with lively reportage and pungent commentary. At its worst—well, let’s just say that if Amanda Reed’s remains are ever exhumed, they may show signs of longitudinal rotation. The specter of unfortunate Quest articles “going viral” had administrators reaching for the aspirin.
But the announcement also spurred howls of protest from a less predictable quarter—the student senate. Concerned that a worldwide Quest might reflect dishonorably on their beloved campus (or stoke negative attention in the media), senators threatened to revoke the paper’s funding. Tensions ran high.
In the end, bolstered by a referendum showing a majority of students in favor of the idea, the editors stuck to their guns, the Quest went online, and administrators braced for impact . . .
So far, however, the anticipated catastrophe has yet to materialize. A glance at the paper’s site (www.reedquest.org) reveals a heartening mix of news, reviews, and commentary that reflects undergraduate life in all its chaotic but eminently printable glory.
“We took the Quest online because we wanted it to be a legitimate news source that took journalism seriously,” says Ethan Knudson ’11. “The internet lets us drastically expand our readership, giving outsiders a look at Reed that isn’t all about drug use and Renn Fayre . . . I think the process was absolutely worth it because it forced us to pay attention to the quality of the newspaper in a new way. We like to pretend that we still live in a bubble, but the awful truth is that the bubble popped a long time ago. Taking the Quest online gives students a powerful tool that I can only hope they’ll use for good.”