by Christopher Sanchez
Student Patrick Willink sat behind a laptop computer drinking coffee without taking his eyes off the screen Monday.
Willink said he has designed posters and fliers before, but he has never designed a newspaper. The transition is a bit stressful, he said.
"Posters and fliers are one page, and they don't have a lot of text on the page," he said. "This is 12 pages with lots of text and some photos."
Willink is among 12 students working on the first issue of a campus newspaper called Dawn of Nations Today. The paper focuses on American-Indian issues.
The newspaper is part of a course called Native American Newspaper Publications.
Mary Bowannie, instructor of the course, said she wanted to create a campus American-Indian newspaper because it gives Native students a chance to connect with their community.
Bowannie, also the editor of the publication, said she has a master's degree in journalism, which is why she wanted to teach the course.
Though at times she wanted to report for the publication, it was important to keep the newspaper a student publication, she said.
"As a journalist, I wanted to jump in, because I love it, and that's what I want to do," she said. "But as a teacher, I had to step back and let them work on it."
At the beginning of the semester, the students in the class took trips to the Navajo Times in Window Rock, Ariz., to get a better understanding of how a newspaper is run.
Reporters from the Navajo Times came to UNM to help students with editing and reporting, too.
Students were assigned at least two stories each for the publication, she said.
Some of the stories in the publication include an article on UNM's tuition hike and an investigative piece on methamphetamines in American-Indian communities.
Bowannie said students had to learn a whole new way of writing.
"Forget everything you ever learned in English," Bowannie said. "Journalism is completely different."
One thousand copies of the Dawn of Nations Today will be distributed some time this week, Bowannie said. The publication is 12 pages with full color and has a variety of hard news, columns and entertainment articles relating to American Indians.
Willink said he wrote a column on music, but he has spent most of his time designing the publication.
"The look is important," he said. "We're trying to establish the look and feel."
Willink said he wants to design a newspaper that people will remember.
"I want a design that can last 10 years before having to be redesigned," Willink said. "Something you can look at every morning when you wake up."
The total cost was about $1,200 for printing and computer expenses, which was funded by the Native American Studies program, Bowannie said.
Student Jes Abeita sat in the room with Willink and helped him with the newspaper layout.
Abeita said strict deadlines kept her in focus.
"I like it because you have a different end point - you have to be done or else," she said.
Abeita said the Dawn of Nations Today covers stories that mainstream media tend to shun.
"If something is important to us, it doesn't get the same amount of coverage (in mainstream media)," she said.
Bowannie said she plans to continue the course next spring. One day, she wants to publish the newspaper once a semester, she said.
"We'll see what happens," she said.