New student run publication leaves 'a mark' on Penn State Harrisburg students

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Penn State Harrisburg School of Humanities media center student staff is spearheading a new model for student-driven media at the college. INKED: Stories that Leave a Mark is a new publication on campus. Students can volunteer to participate or enroll in one of several newspaper practicum courses in order to earn credit for the experience.

The founding principle of the publication is for students to tell tales that will stick with readers, or leave a mark in some way. INKED represents a pillar in what the media center at Penn State Harrisburg hopes to transform into a full hands-on, portfolio-building structure to allow students from all majors to explore projects outside of their field. The publication prepares students for professional positions by teaching production skills, team work, professionalism, work-flow implementation, and leadership. 

INKED operates under the School of Humanities and allows students to earn credit while gaining experience in media production. Students can become involved in radio or newspaper production by registering in a radio or newswriting practicum course offered by the communications department. Students in the radio practicum course are piloting a podcast that should be fully operational by fall 2019.

Current INKED art director and communications major Rachel Long says the publication helped her step out of her comfort zone. Her graphic design skills don’t just improve the quality of the newspaper, they also expand Long’s sense of creativity and inspiration.

“I like that each issue is always different, so I can keep creating and always look for ways I can be better and improve my skills,” she said.

Catherine A. McCormick, lecturer in communications and humanities, said INKED will have a far-reaching impact: "Students gain valuable experience because the publication is run as much like a business as possible. They are producing a real product for a real audience."

Managing editor Sarah McDanolds, a communications major, described the benefits of working on the paper.

“Having the option of investing time in a hands-on practicum class has given me the experience of creating a newspaper from start to finish, including getting stories, editing content and photos, working on layout, advertising, marketing, management, accounting practices," said McDanolds. "I have been fortunate to make the most out of INKED as a whole, and I have been able to add a lot of valuable skills to my skill set.”

INKED also enriches the campus community, said McCormick.

“The paper is available to campus visitors, including potential students and their parents. It is also distributed throughout the Harrisburg area, so the paper serves as an ambassador for Penn State Harrisburg," she added.

McDanolds says that one of her favorite things is, “Getting a fresh edition back from the printer. I love seeing our finished product and distributing it to the world. It is very special to me.”

It has been a successful first year for INKED; the publication’s first issue was produced in September 2018, and since then, students have produced eight monthly issues. The current issue is themed around “journeys.”