Montgomery College Excalibur

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The Birth of Excalibur Newspaper

A look back at the history of the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus student newspaper.

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Excalibur Newspaper's 2014 staff being awarded.

Excalibur Newspaper's 2014 staff being awarded.

Credit: Miriam Simon/Facebook

Credit: Miriam Simon/Facebook

Excalibur Newspaper's 2014 staff being awarded.

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It was January in the year of 1968, the beginning of spring semester at Montgomery College. A 19-year-old Tim Wilson and just a handful of others came walking into their Intro to Journalism class, naturally expecting it to be a mere lecture, like any other curriculum. So it was much to their surprise when their instructor asked them, “Do we have a campus newspaper here at Takoma Park?”

After finding out from the students that the college did not, he took a moment to think, then finally said, “Well, we do now! We are going to start one.”

Just like that, Excalibur was born.

Credit: Special Collections of Montgomery College
The March 1973 issue of Excalibur.

But what most people do not know, is that before Excalibur, Takoma Park actually did in fact have a student newspaper by the name of Knights’ Quest. It turns out the publication first came about back in 1946, and for some unknown reason, ended in 1963. “None of us had any idea that publishing a campus newspaper would end up being a part of the course.  Turned out it was the majority of the course,” said Tim Wilson, who was one of the first co-editors of the revival. “It was really cool.”

The name derived from legendary King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur — a powerful weapon, that is just as prominent as the British leader — which stands for truth, honor and courage, being what a concrete journalist is all about. Of course it was only fitting for the organization to be called such. Wilson credits the instructor for not only the paper’s appellation, but for also taking on the role as primary editor, in addition to supervising the whole rest of the process, from creating a logo, to collecting stories, then actually getting it into print.

Its very first issue took about a month to put together.

Although there could not have been a better way to be truly educated about the field, and it is certainly a fond memory for Wilson personally, he explained that things were challenging due to the antiquated equipment they had to work with. “It was a difficult process,” Wilson said. “It started by typing up our stories on our manual typewriters. Next, we took our stories over to the University of Maryland journalism department where we then typed our stories again into what I think was called a composing machine, where the copy would come out camera ready.”

Each page was pasted up on individual sheets, as it would look as the final copy. Then the crew took those individual sheets to College Park for printing and prepared Excalibur for distribution. They repeated the same process for each issue.

Maintaining the paper back then was especially laborious, and took a ton of dedication. Still, Wilson said he is nothing but grateful for what the experience instilled in him, giving his instructor the utmost praise.

“He could have kept us in the lecture hall all semester and talked about all of this, but he chose to give us the opportunity to actually do it hands-on,” he said. “Looking back on it all, I learned so much. It is probably the best course I took in my four years of college.”

Here at The Excalibur today, we carry on the legacy by making it our responsibility to bring awareness of current events happening at here on campus, as well as all around locally and then some. Since its March 1968 debut, The Excalibur has grown to become an award-winning student newspaper.

We want all our peers to know that this is a place where they can always depend on us to deliver not only relevant, but accurate information. This is a place where their voices will always be welcomed about whatever if at any time they wish to join in.

Here is to hopefully another 50 years!

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The Birth of Excalibur Newspaper