Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Op/Ed: The Talon might be dying





I applied for a position under the Talon and Photo Collective last year as a freshman. I was hired as an assistant photo editor, so I helped shoot events on campus as a photographer. Frankly, it was terrifying.

The first Talon event I went to was the release party in September, when the book from the previous year was finally printed and distributed. Looking through old Talon yearbooks was intimidating, because the photography was amazing and the design was simple and clean. The Talon, simply put, is a work of art. An incredibly dedicated team of students oversees all operations and somehow creates a yearbook so beautiful, it makes people cry (at least I did, on the inside, for a little bit).

“The Talon, simply put, is a work of art.”

I went through most of last year shooting events for the Talon, unaware of our situation. I knew our books weren’t selling, but I didn’t think it really mattered. The Talon never had trouble with content. The book always accurately portrayed what a year at AU looked like. Our problem was getting students to appreciate and buy the yearbook.

Our contract with our publisher required us to sell 300 books. For the past few years, Talon has been unable to meet that quota. Last year, we sold a little over 100 books.

There just isn’t much interest in AU’s yearbook. This trend isn’t specific to AU; college yearbooks around the nation are having trouble selling. Maybe Talon’s inability to sell is reflective of the more fast-paced media preferences of today, as traditional print media is dying.

But even though I’m sad that Talon might not print a yearbook this year, I’m excited about the possibilities for the Photo Collective. The Photo Collective was a project started by the Photo Editor of the Talon three years ago, but has grown into its own organization since then.

When I joined the Talon staff as a freshman last year, I was more drawn to the Photo Collective. But since the two were so connected, I ended up heavily involved in both.

“But even though I’m sad that Talon might not print a yearbook this year,
I’m excited about the possibilities for the Photo Collective.”

As the head of the Photo Collective this year, I have received immense support from the student body and faculty – support that I hadn’t ever seen for Talon. Photography, and especially coverage of events on campus, is just more relevant for AU’s students and organizations. If the Talon does go under, I’m excited to expand the Photo Collective and increase its presence on campus.

It’s always sad to see a publication go under, but this is also a chance for a more relevant, supported media organization to expand and flourish, and I’m hopeful for the Photo Collective’s future.

Kristie Chua is the editor of Photography for the Talon and director of the Photo Collective. The Talon is AU’s yearbook and the Photo Collective is a community of student photographers that offers workshops, photo critiques, speakers, and field trips.