The Ranger often goes beyond its mission with special projects.
By Rebecca Flores
Over the course of four decades, The Ranger has focused several special issues on national tragedies and local news as well as campus resources for new students.
In the 1980s, W.B. Daugherty oversaw production of The Night Ranger, a version of the paper written by and for night students, who saw a different campus life than day students.
In summer 1986, the staff produced the Borderlands project, a cross-cultural learning program that examined U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico relations and was published in The Fourth Write magazine.
The project allowed students and teachers the opportunity to travel to the Mexican and Canadian borders.
The Borderlands Project included coverage of the annual International Bridge Ceremony between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, which celebrated how two small cities from two large nations cooperated and symbolized how a bridge was much more than just a structure.
Tricia Buchhorn, a photo adviser who was a student photographer at the time, attended the ceremony to capture those moments. “I was very concerned I wasn’t going to capture the moment. Not only would I be an embarrassment to The Ranger but I would also be an embarrassment to my country.”
In fall 1989, The Ranger’s Fourth Write magazine focused exclusively on AIDS.
This was an opportunity for The Ranger to get information out about the deadly disease by featuring a timeline of the history of AIDS as well as many personal stories.
“At the time, AIDS was a disease that was getting a lot of media coverage because there was a lot of controversy on the treatment and on how people were perceived to have gotten the disease, plus it was also very scary,” said media communications Chair Marianne Odom, who was a Ranger adviser at the time.
“It was very much in the news and also of interest to young people. Because of some of the dangers of drug use and unprotected sex, AIDS was a very real possibility, which is why I think we decided to write about it,” Odom said.
The Fourth Write, which was published twice a year from 1968 to 1991, allowed students longer deadlines to write in-depth feature stories, shoot photos, create illustrations and design magazine-style layouts.
“It was fun getting a magazine out because the less frequently a publication comes out, the more people expect perfection,” Odom said.
In April 1995, The Ranger published a Second Front page dedicated to the quake of magnitude 5.6, near Alpine.
The “Marfa quake,” which was hundreds of miles from San Antonio, caused the campus to be evacuated after vibrations were reported from the fourth floor of Moody Learning Center.
“This was such an unusual event at the time,” said journalism Instructor Irene Abrego, who said she felt a shaking but ignored it when no one else in the room seemed to notice.
Inspectors evacuated the campus to check buildings for cracks or damage. “They threw us out of the buildings, but we didn’t leave,” Abrego said. “We got permission to come in the next day, and the staff came in, despite the fact that the college was closed, and put together two new pages of stories on the earthquake.”
This was also the first completely digital issue of The Ranger. It also turned out to be the first time The Ranger missed its publication date. At that time, Ranger photographers printed photos and sent them to the press with the pasted up pages. Staff at San Antonio Press Inc. sized them and taped them into the page negatives.
For this issue, links connected photos to the wrong spaces on the page and the paper had to be rerun the next day. “We took the pages back and searched for every time element in them so they could be changed and be correct the next day,” Abrego said.
The Ranger also published several orientation issues beginning in the late 1990s to help new students find their way around campus and access available services.
The issues contained maps of the campus, stories on student resources as well as information about events and clubs on campus.
“It was a wonderful way to introduce to the students some of the services on campus and some of the benefits they can take advantage of,” Abrego said.
The Ranger was also on the job covering the local effects of national tragedies.
For the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, The Ranger produced a special wraparound four-page section for the regular issue.
The college closed right away, but The Ranger staff was called in for duty, Abrego said. In the midst of the chaos, The Ranger staff covered press conferences, blood drives and memorial services along with interviewing a terrorist specialist and a student reservist ready to go to war.
“The students were giving it their best effort,” Abrego said. “This was the week of our first issue in the fall semester so we had a lot of brand-new students. They had to go out in the world and cover, reasonably, the biggest event of the century.”
She added, “Despite the tragedy, I was very pleased with the turnout of students and the job that they were doing that day.”
Ranger staffers signed on for two Gulf Coast trips to cover the devastation in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 as well as the BP oil spill in 2010.
Between Christmas and New Year’s, four months after the hurricanes, a Ranger team traveled to cities in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The special issue featured personal stories from victims.
“It was overwhelming emotionally,” said Joseph DeLeon, Web information specialist at the Texas Department of State Health Services, who was a Ranger reporter at the time. “So many things went through my mind. I was excited to travel, but when I got there, it was shocking to see the disaster. It was emotionally draining.”
Five years later, a team of six reporters and photographers and three advisers traveled along the Gulf of Mexico to Florida to cover the BP oil spill. Because the spill affected so large an area, The Ranger team split up in two groups to cover as much as possible.
Rather than creating a special issue for this disaster, The Ranger featured a few stories in every weekly issue because there was so much information on the spill to cover.
“We gathered so much information we decided to put a weekly insert into the paper to keep it fresh in everyone’s mind,” Buchhorn said. “It was going to affect those communities for a very long time.”