Widener’s student-run digital-first news site The Blue & Gold is keeping its finger on the pulse of arts and culture not only on campus but in the Philadelphia region.  The site is helmed by English/Communication Studies major Maria Klecko (managing editor, news) and English/Creative Writing major Autumn Heisler (managing editor, arts and entertainment), and features the work of many of our English and Creative Writing majors.

Sam Starnes serves as the advisor for The Blue & Gold and teaches courses in arts journalism and feature and magazine writing for the English department.  He is also the editor of Widener Magazine, which has garnered numerous awards under his leadership.  Prior to joining Widener, Sam freelanced for The New York Times and also had work appear in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Philadelphia Inquirer, among other papers and a few national magazines. From 1994 through 2006, Sam worked for PR Newswire, the largest of the national and international press release wire services, including seven years as national director of media relations.  From 1989 through 1994, he worked for two small-to-midsize Knight-Ridder newspapers in Georgia and Florida, winning a number of Associated Press and Georgia Press Association awards for his work.

Arts Journalism students meet with John Timpane at the Inquirer
Arts Journalism students meet with John Timpane at the Inquirer

This semester, Sam is offering Arts Journalism.  Students are focusing on events around campus, including creating a package of stories to run in October around the first-year common experience and visit from author Jena Osman; a preview was recently published on the site here.  In addition, students have had the opportunity to visit the newsroom of the Philadelphia Inquirer and meet John Timpane, a writer and editor there.  Timpane shared with the students an early look at the newspaper’s planned redesign of its Arts section. Timpane gave students a tour of the newsroom and led a 90-minute discussion offering advice on writing reviews, profiles, and other stories focused on the arts, as well as addressing a wide range of topics ranging from covering a production of Othello, the new U2 album, and singer Iggy Azalea.

Sam will be teaching Magazine Writing in Spring 2015.  The Blue & Gold holds its editorial meetings every Monday at noon in Freedom Hall — get involved!  You can also follow the site on Twitter.