This is a post about creating Mustang Media Group, a new student media venture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo that combines students from print, broadcast and PR journalism backgrounds to deliver a digital-first news experience to our campus community. As Mustang Media Group editor, I am one-fifth of our founding leadership team.
What exactly is in a name?
That’s the question my colleague and Mustang Daily’s print editor in chief J.J. Jenkins posed at the beginning of a piece Friday announcing our publication’s historic name change. Mustang Daily, he revealed, will now be Mustang News.
As J.J. pointed out, and as any brand manager worth half their salary will tell you, quite a lot is in a name. Through one or two words, you leave first impressions, create hope among teams, provide readers an outlet for their frustration and establish a rallying call for your community.
That’s why we cannot take this name change lightly. Though the switch wasn’t by our design — the Cal Poly journalism faculty let us know as people began to trickle in for our Friday morning training in a literal last-minute announcement— the new name carries immense weight for our university.
Mustang Daily was a historic brand, there’s no doubt about that. Decades of editors tied their heart and soul for four or more years to that name, and most everyone in our newsroom today has spent years reading the pages within Mustang Daily.
But students, not faculty, decided this year to fully embrace the changing winds of media. Yes, the professors spurred the shift, but each of us five Mustang Media Group leaders made a conscious decision to go along with our new converged newsroom.
Like an awkward pimple, none of us wanted to point out the obvious problems with Mustang Daily. We felt tied to its history, and so we ignored its flaws. We made excuses to cover up the fact we would no longer be publishing daily, that MDTV (the proposed name for our new broadcast unit) was already trademarked and that the legacy of a traditional newspaper would hurt the morale of journalists focused on digital and television coverage.
Sucking up that pride and announcing Mustang News is perhaps our biggest symbolic commitment to change so far. Though I was more in shock than inspired when I first heard the news, I’ve come to realized in the past 36 hours that the decision was the right one. It will be a near-herculean feat to make the transition — within minutes of its announcement, we were calling graphic designers to get to work —but it will show our resolve to dedicate more than lip service to our “digital-first” newsroom approach.
Some might see the new name as a cop out on our promise to be Cal Poly’s daily news source, but that is not true. Far from decreasing our frequency, we plan to ramp it up as far as we can take it. Plans are underway to provide hour-by-hour updates to mustangnews.net, the new home of student media at Cal Poly. Editors have been instructed to post stories throughout the week, irrespective of our now two-day-a-week print publication schedule. Adding to the mix, broadcast journalists will also appear on camera multiple times each day and supplement our already established print coverage.
Yes, as J.J. put it, there is a lot is in a name. “The impact is more than we even consider,” he wrote. With these changes, and the name being our final piece of the puzzle finally dropped into place, you better believe I’m excited.