“What year did we start? I need to update the website ‘About’ page…”
“Look it up”
“No, that’s the problem. We are where people go to look up something like that. It’s found in the about page, but if the people making the page- us- don’t know when it started, nobody else can either at this point.”
“What about the filing cabinet…?”
In a dusty black filing cabinet standing silently in the corner of MUB 132, 30+ years of history sit plastered among the inky pages of issues past. Through dozens of staff writers, editors, designers, production nights, inside jokes, and features upon features, Main Street Magazine has stayed consistently available to students for more than three decades, though it’s taken many different forms. Though the magazine has faced challenges both internally and externally, it has remained nonetheless. And so, among pages past and photos forgotten, Main Street Magazine’s archive sits in a file cabinet too heavy to move, and almost too daunting to investigate.
But we needed to know what year Main Street Magazine officially started while updating our online information, so I spent an hour or two that could have been spent studying instead looking at all the past issues of Main Street that we had available. Collections of issues from every year of Main Street since 1987 (we also had issues from 1985 and 1986 when Main Street went under the title Catalyst Magazine) laid sprawled out on the newsroom floor, laying bare the work of writers and editors past. We found that we started at least sometime in the early 80’s, though no previous records of a UNH magazine exist before the 1985 issue of Catalyst Magazine. We had no answers about our own beginnings, but we were intrigued at how many issues of Main Street Magazine there had been, and how many had been forgotten and left to collect dust in the corner of the newsroom.
“Well I think it’s great you’re doing this. It’s nice to talk about it, but admittedly I had forgotten that I did that all those years ago,” said Julia Hanauer-Milne abashedly as we danced around pleasantries at the start of our interview. Hanauer-Milne was Editor in Chief of Catalyst Magazine from 1984-85. Like the magazine today, under Hanauer-Milne’s control, Catalyst focused heavily on feature stories within their semesterly issues. She noted that Top 10 Lists were big on Letterman that year, so they included a few here and there. Attention spans were always short, it seems.
The biggest change from 84 to now has to be layout. As Hanauer-Milne described layout taking “hours and hours” using
“X-acto knives and a lot of laying down lines.”
“I mean, the classrooms still had typewriters, if that gives you any sense of time,” Hanuaer-Milne joked, dating herself on the changes between hand-laid articles, and the issues now as Main Street moves into the multimedia world. The layout
itself made sense, and the stories ranged from a piece about square dancing to an inside look at the firing of thousands of air traffic controllers. The process, though, has evolved immensely.
“It’s crazy how it’s changed,” says former writer, senior editor, and editor in chief Krista Diamond. “We didn’t do any social media. I think you still needed a college email address to sign up for Facebook. It’s not like it is today.”
Diamond graduated in 2010, and currently lives in Las Vegas freelance writing for food and outdoors publications. As far as her time at the magazine goes, Diamond remembers the staff as being sarcastic and funny (they’re still sarcastic) as they spent all night producing the magazine and eating take out the week the magazine was due (also something that will never change). Diamond found inspiration for her issues from weekly alternative news magazines, mostly out of Boston, like the Weekly Dig (now known as DigBoston).
“We liked to do it in a way that sounds like you’re having a beer with someone or just talking. I loved the conversational feel of the magazine.”
Under Diamond’s command, every issue had a little bit of a different theme, usually centered around one main story. She recalls “The Sex Issue” being a big deal and raising some controvery around canvas, or at least with funding boards. Main Street has seen at least three sex-related cover stories in the last 15 years, and we can only assume that sex will always be a topic of interest at UNH.
One of the first cover stories published under Morgan Cutulo’s (UNH Class of 2017) command was about what being a virgin in college was like, and the follow-up issue featured students who didn’t drink or party.
“I think it made a statement about what people do and don’t do, and what’s normal, especially around UNH,” said Cutulo, Editor in Chief 2015-17.
Cutulo’s vision for the magazine featured creativity and flexibility allowed tot the writers, demanding no real theme or focus from any one issue. The magazine continued to follow a geometric design different from past issues that had shown abstract positioning and randomness to reign above calculated placement and right angles.
“We would let people tell their own story, which we wanted, but it ended up turning into kind of a diary entry type of reporting,” admitted Cutulo, referring to a number of stories that lacked in sources and narrative. Instead, students took the chance to write about themselves in a printed publication.
There would have been more online space for students to write about themselves, but at some point during Cutulo’s time in charge the website was hacked, and there was no real form of a recovery system at the time.
Cutulo made moves for Main Street, though, as she hand-delivered the magazine to academic buildings around campus during a time of budget cuts, and saw that MSM would continue to be funded by spearheading the merger of TNH and Main Street along with last years TNH executive editor, Allison Belluci. Without Cutulo, Main Street wouldn’t have made it to your door, and probably wouldn’t be here at all as an available publication.
Budget, like with all industries, has always been something to wrangle with. “In a time of budget cuts, it was pretty amazing. We even kept it my senior year despite further cuts. I remember the newspaper getting hit hard,” remembers Chris Arcand, Editor in Chief of Main Street from 2001-02. Main Street stopped running ads sometime in the late 90’s, and though we can’t find an exact reason why it stopped, we’re much happier to fill the space with photos and features.
As far as pieces go, it seems that MSM has always indulged in its space for feature writing, as well as writer and time constraints. “We would always assign extra stories because 2 or 3 writers would always flake out. It was a constant battle to keep people on task,” said Arcand, speaking all too familiarly of the stresses of dropped articles. “The magazine was more special interest pieces than news. Some writers from the newspaper would try to do long pieces for us, but then quit when they realized it was more like writing an English paper than a quick newspaper article.”
Regardless of format, the writing must be done. As I sit here, 6 p.m. on Friday night before production weekend, I wonder if I or any other journalist will ever really feel like they’re on time for a story. I’d wager not, but I’ve seen a few writers who feign being put together nicely. Hanauer-Milne, who has now been out of the writing business for 21 years laughed as we talked last Monday nightabout an article due Friday that she hadn’t started by the start pf the article. I laugh, not because she’s behind schedule, but because we’re all behind schedule, and it doesn’t matter if we need to lay lines with rulers and knives or update the Main Street Magazine, Facebook page everytime an article comes out. Time and money will always be out to get us. Some things never change.