By Rachel Royster | News Editor
In the midst of the pandemic, one meeting over Zoom in 2020 ended with the creation of the online publication dubbed The Standard.
Made up of three faculty mentors, two senior editors and five section editors, thestandardspeaks.com became a creative outlet for a range of Baylor students all focused on one goal: highlighting the true, the good and the beautiful in society through long-form journalism.
“It was my brainchild, though I quickly approached a close circle of my students who helped me develop the idea,” faculty mentor Dr. David Corey said. “I was motivated by the increased polarization on campus and a lack of the very concept of civic friendship. I thought students needed a forum for positively building up our community.”
The unchartered campus organization began publication in October 2020 with the motto “Honesty. Civility. Hope.”
“To put it simply, we really want to devote energy to celebrating good things happening around us, especially focusing on goods we have in common,” Corey said. “We don’t place a moratorium on criticism, but we refuse to give ourselves over to cynicism, especially toward our fellow students.”
McGregor junior and editor-in-chief Samuel Dutschmann said 2020 was a hopeless time for many. He said this was clearly shown through most media coverage, and The Standard staff felt the community needed more articles that reflected objective truth, good and beauty in the world.
“The initial purpose was to inject some semblance of honesty, civility and hope into the American political dialogue, where if you turn on any news media, chances are it’s going to be lacking regardless of what side of the aisle,” Dutschmann said. “Or even if you managed to find one of these few-and-far-between news networks that are without extreme bias — or with it without at least evident bias — you’re still going to get a pretty hopeless and bleak message and nothing that’s based in some underlying concept of truth, beauty and goodness.”
Dutschmann said he’s seen a majority of The Standard’s audience react well to its content.
“We had a high-grossing article on Kim’s Diner over there on Waco Drive,” Dutschmann said. “I believe that got like 1,000-something reads just by getting circulated throughout the Waco sphere and then a vague intellectual sphere of intellectual Christian America. That was just a simple piece on life in a diner in a small Waco town of almost 150k people.”
Waco senior and managing editor Beth Butler said writing at The Standard has been an enjoyable divergence from her typical great texts and philosophy studies while still being similar in some ways.
“I really like that The Standard is about intrinsically good things,” Butler said. “Something we talk about a lot as the editors is that a culture saturated by politics and consumed by politics can become poorer for it sometimes, in that there are other things that make a culture rich and sort of bountiful. And so I think it’s been a lot of fun to just sort of think about what those things are in Waco that are making our community just better and more fruitful and to get to celebrate them with articles.”
Dutschmann said The Standard staff aims to publish an issue consisting of one or two articles in each of their five sections monthly. Butler said the organization also has hopes of producing a print edition before the semester ends, which has slowed their ability to post content monthly a bit.
“We’re obviously a very young paper,” Butler said. “We’re still sort of getting all of our systems worked out. But so for our first year of operation, we were entirely focused on our online presence. And so we were doing monthly issues. Now, we’re still doing that, but our online presence has been slowed a little bit because we’re scheming toward a print publication, so we devote a bit more of our energy there.”
Corey said the staff is made up of volunteer editors and authors who are motivated by the paper’s mission. He said a number of students who have graduated from The Standard have gone on to major newspapers like The Dallas Morning News and The American Spectator. He said one student has even used their background at The Standard to land a job as a speechwriter for Marco Rubio.
“I designed it to be a learning experience for everyone involved, from the editors down to the writers,” Corey said. “They grow into their roles and take pride in their work. They also receive regular input and guidance from the faculty mentors. They feel like they are part of a club or even a movement for sociopolitical change.”