SSU in Review: Press time
The Spectrum was Sangamon State University’s first student newspaper—aimed at students, faculty and staff of SSU as well as nearby Lincoln Land Community College—and one of the first weekly periodicals for the Springfield area. Published on Sept. 18, 1970, the inaugural issue featured topics ranging from plans for the young University’s future library to women’s fashion. But from its inception to its final run in 1977, the publication also touched upon local politics and government.
“We knew we were going to try to be a serious newspaper for the University when we started,” says Jim Bertolino, ’72 LAS, MA ’82 LAS, who served as an editor from 1970-72.
Many students—among them, John Armstrong, ’71 PAA, MA ’73 PAA, the newspaper’s founder and publisher— opposed the way The State Journal-Register, Springfield’s local periodical, reported on heated topics, Bertolino notes.
“They covered stories from an aspect of, ‘Isn’t this horrible?’” he recalls. “We wanted to cover things from the ‘Give us an idea of why you think this way’ [angle].”
Subjects examined by The Spectrum included the debates surrounding the 1970 Constitution of Illinois and the Vietnam War.
“Controversy was everywhere,” says Bertolino, who covered city council meetings. “We didn’t have to look for it.”
Unfortunately, the student newspaper faced financial struggles. To help alleviate costs and make up for unsold ads, staff members also worked for The Springfield Shopper, a local advertising paper; in return for student labor, The Springfield Shopper gave The Spectrum the use of its printing equipment, including a VariTyper machine that was used to set type. The publication eventually transitioned to an offset printing plant in Havana, Ill.
The Spectrum wouldn’t be SSU’s last student newspaper. Since its closure, primary successors have included The SSU Pipeline (1976-79), The SSU Prairie Star (1979-84), SSU News (1985-94), The Sangamon Star (1995-96) and The Journal (current).