The Collegian brand of journalism shuns stagnation. It entails, instead, an unremitting evolution because the world it captures in writing likewise transforms endlessly. In its 100 years of being, the Collegian has moved from hosting administration-sponsored campus pageants to condemning Diliman’s chain of command; from delivering straight news to experimenting with slow journalism; and from candid, text-heavy formats to pages dominated by striking graphics.
The multiple printing formats the publication has adopted give tactile form to these changes. Such tumultuous times as the American colonial period, Martial Law, and the COVID-19 pandemic all necessitated a rethinking of how the publication delivers its news. As the Collegian charts its way forward in its 101st year, revisiting past benchmarks becomes imperative.
The publication dabbled in the broadsheet format as early as 1917, when its predecessor, the Varsity News, began printing with an 11” by 17” newspaper. Throughout the 20th century, the broadsheet was the Collegian’s customary print format. Its pages prioritized text, but visual satire was nonetheless commonplace. In the post-Martial Law era, the cartoon character Tibo was a staple appearance in the Collegian, and helped inform readers in a manner that was as humorous as it was punchy.
The '90s proved that the choice to print in broadsheet was a value-laden one; the 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1998 Collegian–all broadsheet terms–careened on pluralism and neutrality, and kept its coverage within the compass of university matters. Whereas, tabloid editorships eschewed impartiality and were bolder in their reportage of national issues. Some outliers exist, however, as in the Collegian of 2001, whose newsprint was in the size between broadsheet and tabloid to show neutrality on the issue of pluralism.
The first Philippine Collegian opened publication in 1922 with a 10” by 13.5” tabloid that was circulated every two weeks. In its infancy, the tabloid’s most substantial content comprised snapshots of campus sweethearts. Now, however, the tabloid is synonymous with the redemption of the Collegian’s trademark of critical journalism. To detach from the pluralistic views of past terms and to reorient the Collegian as a radical activist student paper, the 1994 and 1999 editorships abandoned the broadsheet and printed in tabloid form. These terms voiced more cynical sentiments on issues like US hegemony. The use of the tabloid would be standardized starting in 2006, the same year when a Collegian editorial declared that “pluralism is impossible in a society wracked by economic inequality and political domination.”
Tabloid printing ceased in 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same year, the Collegian sought to launch a purely digital tabloid, but discontinued after four issues to focus on releasing online articles.
To the tune of new media’s rising popularity, the editors of the Collegian created kule.upd.edu.ph in the early 2000s, which would later evolve into philippinecollegian.net, and then philippinecollegian.org. The publication posted its issues through DeviantArt until 2013, and later migrated to Issuu. The Collegian introduced real-time news coverage in 2009, when the circulation of live updates on pressing campus goings-on like the student council elections became an exigency.
This foundation allowed the publication to transplant its operations to an exclusively online setup in March 2020, in the wake of pandemic restraints foisted both on writers and the Collegian’s printing capacity. The exclusively online arrangement made way for long, broad-gauged writing—in June 2020, the Collegian published a 48-page special online issue on the first three months of the lockdown. Now, the publication continues to publish content and news updates on its Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter) pages, as well as its official website, phkule.org.
After a two-year print hiatus, the Collegian, in its centennial year, published a physical magazine in May 2022, in time for the presidential elections that led to Marcoses's return to Malacañang. The magazine format highlighted the Collegian’s slow journalism thrust–a means for the paper to offer incisive commentary for the readership amid the breakneck pace of the pandemic news cycle.
Released monthly, a premium was put on long-form pieces with expository analyses.
Return to the tabloid
The 101st Collegian has resolved to return to the tabloid format, after three years of purely online releases and a year of magazine output. The campus, the country, and the world beyond it run rife with injustice. The output of news allowed for by the tabloid is the Collegian’s means not only to keep up, but to respond to such injustice—in its radical and longstanding tradition of critical journalism. ●
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