Story by Alex Freeman ’23
With its writers scattered across the world, The Lawrentian has not come out in its weekly paper format since the end of Winter Term, but that does not mean it’s gone silent. In an effort to keep the Lawrence community connected and in-the-know during distance learning, Lawrence’s student-run news outlet is now coming to you in the form of the new Lawrentian Student Podcast.
Although you can’t pick up the weekly paper, the podcast is staying true to The Lawrentian’s original focus: providing coverage for Lawrence students.
“If you just want the news, you can get it from a lot of other places that are probably better at it than a bunch of 20-somethings,” podcast host and creator Luther Abel ’22 said. “I want coverage from the eyes of the students, because just naked news coverage gets old in a few days. If we do it more in story format, I think it will stand the test of time better, where we can come back to this in a few years and feel the same emotions we’re going through now.”
Launched on Spotify earlier in May, The Lawrentian Student Podcast is now published at least once a week, perhaps more depending on the schedules of hosts Abel and Fariba Lale ’21. Each episode, they’ll pair up to discuss developments in their lives, provide commentary on major international events, and break down the news coming out of Lawrence. Most weeks will also include a special guest, usually a writer, professor, or member of the administration.
Despite the structures preventing a more traditional newspaper this term, Editor-in-Chief Dannielle Konz ’21 sees this podcast as an opportunity for The Lawrentian to continue playing a role in connecting the campus community. The podcast will provide The Lawrentian a channel to distribute the news in an easier-to-swallow format.
“I feel like people are constantly being barraged on their phones with news articles and social media posts, and everyone is seeing things all the time,” Konz said. “To have something to listen to rather than to look at, I feel kind of gives our medium for this a little novelty. Having something that’s not being done on campus gives us an opportunity to try and reach students in a way that’s not the same as everybody else.”
In order to foster a diverse student connection, the hosts recognize the importance of providing balanced reporting and commentary on world events. When originally hiring writers for Spring Term, Abel and Lale were brought on to tag-team election coverage for the Op-Ed section, with Abel representing a more conservative viewpoint and Lale writing from a more liberal point of view.
This plan quickly fell through when the shift was made to remote learning, but when Abel pitched the idea for the podcast, Lale was seen as a natural choice for his co-host. With Lale officially signed on, as well as a variety of guest contributors, the hope is that different political beliefs and varying student experiences will always be represented.
“You’re not ever hearing just one side of anything,” Lale said. “You’re always going to be hearing some contrasting views, and then there’s a lot of room for discussion. When you’re on opposite sides of an opinion, if you can have a good-faith discussion, you can find a lot of common ground.”
The hope is that this discussion format will extend beyond just the two hosts. Abel and Lale want to provide an outlet for writers to tell their stories and share their ideas, just as they did through the physical newspaper. Whether it be news, opinion, or any other format, the podcast is a space where The Lawrentian writers can continue doing what they’ve done for campus since 1884: keep the Lawrence community informed and engaged.
“I want it to feel like you’re back on campus, sitting in the dining hall, and people are stopping by the table and sitting to chat,” Abel said. “It was a blast just having people stop by the table. I got to meet them—people I never would’ve met in classes—and all of a sudden hear their life story. It’s amazing. For such a small campus, we should know each other at least a little bit. We can’t do that in person now, but I’m hoping we can do that at a distance this way.”
Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Communications office.