Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone restarts magazine class

By Todd R. Brown, Staff writer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fall 2007 Midnight magazine cover.Fremont—It debuted in the spring without shyness, a literary student magazine that included a compelling account of addiction tagged "life or meth."

It evolved in the fall with more of a local news bent, offering articles on Irvington's culinary variety and an Afghan-meets-hip-hop fashion designer.

Now, the glossy beast hungers for money for the coming of spring once more.

Student-produced Midnight marks the return of magazine teaching at Ohlone College. Instructor Bill Parks figuresthe course has been absent from the journalism program for nearly a decade.

"Early on, we had one teacher who did it for about 20 years," said Parks, who also is an adviser for Ohlone's student newspaper, The Monitor. "Then we had some part-timers. It was definitely not happening for quite a while."

At other schools, he said, magazine classes develop a following based on previous publications, which are both an educational goal and a promotional tool.

"We didn't have any of that," he said, noting that one student in particular helped recruit enough colleagues to fill the course. "It was tough to start. The problem has always been finding 20 students to sign up."

Once that was accomplished, Parks—a Niles resident who gave his age as "too old to die young"—said focusing on a concept followed, along with funding questions.

"They wanted to write about stuff that students would be interested in doing after-hours," he said. "Students here think there's nothing to do in Fremont—which is somewhat true, although after a while you find there are things to do.

"Originally, the name was offensive. They wanted to call it The Tomahawk, and that didn't fly. We finally came up with Midnight."

The 40-pager wound up costing about $4,500 for 2,000 copies. The fall edition, which came out this month, had a few paid ads but was funded mostly by the student government.

Jacque Orvis, 23, enrolled in the fall course after slowly succumbing to the college's journalism offerings. Originally a video-focused student, she is now working toward several media associate degrees.

"You have to have journalism in order to do film," she said. "You've got to know how to write, you've got to know how to tell a story to produce a film, to produce anything."

Among other tasks, she edited video of a student poetry performance for the Midnight Web site and interviewed Ohlone broadcasting alumni for her own article, among them Dina Eastwood, Clint's wife.

"The night of putting everything together and going to the printer, Dina finally called me back," said Orvis, who relocated to Campbell from Fremont a few years ago. "I was editing to the last minute."

She said she learned "it's OK to be pushy because someone's not doing their work." For herself, she realized she needs time to do quality work—but also a firm constraint on the process.

"I don't need more time," she said, quoting a slogan on the wall at The Monitor's office, "I need a deadline."

Parks gives a lot of the credit for initiating Midnight to former student Matthew Mountford, who heard a teacher talking about the previous Ohlone magazine, Legend, and got inspired to enlist friends for a new class.

Previously, Mountford, 20, of Fremont said he restarted The Rune student magazine while at Irvington High School, after a six-year publishing hiatus.

"That was just my niche," he said, adding modestly, "My goal is to maybe start magazines, create a conglomerate."

Now studying journalism at San Jose State University, he described what he took away as editor in chief of the spring issue of Midnight, starting with the name controversy.

"Legend just wasn't really punchy enough," he said. "First it was Tomahawk. That was pretty edgy. That was a huge fiasco."

After getting input from American Indian activists, the class decided to chuck the first name because of the stereotypical "Tomahawk Chop" done by Atlanta Braves fans—and because the weapon wasn't even used by local Ohlone Indians.

"I got to kind of learn to take problems and work with them," Mountford said. "All semester it was just one thing after another coming up. When you get to a dead end, turn around and move in a different direction."

Parks said he hopes there is momentum for the program and maybe funding from the college foundation for the next print run. The spring 2008 magazine class convenes in late January.

"You have to build up that market first, that demand first," he said. "Now we have two good-looking magazines. People like them."

Download a PDF of the fall 2007 issue at http://www.ohlonemidnight.com.

Staff writer Todd R. Brown covers Newark, Ohlone College and ethnic community issues. Reach him at 510-353-7004 or todd.brown@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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