In the coming age of electronic communication and web design, an online satirical publication emerged from Whittington Hall, a freshman dorm at the time, on Mississippi College’s campus. In 2000, a group of young men noticed the quirks and oddities that were ongoing on in the Whitt, as it is affectionately called.
Freshmen Tim Krason, Brian McCollister, and TJ Colvin decided to bring the happenings of Mississippi College to light in a humorous fashion by launching a website, called the “Whitt Weekly.”
When Krason first arrived at MC, he began an email newsletter that he sent to his friends and family updating them on his life at college. The emails ended up containing playful and funny stories about other freshmen and faculty on campus that he encountered.
Krason named the newsletter “The Krasonian,” and before he knew it, people on campus began finding out about it and asked to be added to the subscriber list.
Krason said, “I ended up sending the thing to between 200 and 300 people. Ridiculous.”
McCollister approached Krason and explained his idea of the “Whitt Weekly,” which he was already creating a website to début. The idea was to report and publish real events that happened in the Whitt and at MC, using humorous satire.
Krason and McCollister joined forces and created the site through an AOL account and used Paint Shop Pro to edit images posted on the website. To promote the publication, Krason sent the website’s link to his subscribers, and the Whitt Weekly took off.
They started out writing stories about the horrific dorm life, from slashed showered curtains to the neighbor’s loud music.
“Eventually coverage was expanded to cover other ridiculous stories from campus life, including hazing, chapel, campus parking, and the growing epidemic of CSC 114: Intro to Computer Science, also known as ‘the second death,’” McCollister said.
Their third issue, ironically titled Much Controversy, came out during a dark time for the university. A budget crisis had ensued and a handful of faculty members lost their jobs, including the favorable Dean of Students. Additionally, this led to a vote by the Student Government Association of “no confidence” in administration.
In a Collegian article from April 2000 covering the SGA meeting, the writer states, “The vote of no confidence came on the heels of a question and answer session in which the vice president for student affairs addressed student concern over the loss of an administrator many have deemed the last voice for students.”
McCollister said, “During that time, we had hoped that the Whittington Weekly would bring some laughs and smiles to the Mississippi College campus community.” The Whitt Weekly succeeded in allowing these freshmen men to vent their frustrations of dorm life, as well as, acting as a cheerful outlet of MC news for other Choctaws.
In describing the way they wrote material, Krason said, “We reported real information but exaggerated it to absurdity or we reported the complete opposite of what happened, whichever was funnier.”
Adding to the success of the Weekly, Krason and McCollister found out an English professor at MC used one of their articles in class as an example of good satire.
The same day they launched the site, they began receiving many emails about the publication. One of the emails Krason received was from the chair of the Computer Science department asking him to report to his office.
“Sensing we were in trouble, we temporarily removed the site and I had a good talking-to by the professor who had emailed me. It was actually a great teachable moment,” Krason explained.
Instead of being told to stop publishing material on the site, the chair of the department explained the copyright and libel issues that they could possibly face and encouraged the students to not use real names of people on campus.
“We ended up re-launching the website a week or so later with our own logos and with toned down criticism (both of which forced us to be more creative) and without people’s real names, which turned out to be hilarious,” Krason said.
They used phrases, such as “said a prominent dean of residence life on campus” at “the largest Baptist university in the Clinton area.” Krason and McCollister continued their mockery of the school once the site reappeared online.
“We put our own spin on what had happened during ‘Whittington-gate’ and that we had entered heavy negotiations with college administration to broker a compromise for our return,” said McCollister.
The Collegian ran a story about the Whitt Weekly, (you can read that here), which began communication between the publications. They began a column titled the “Collegian Correction” where they explained falsely-reported material by the Collegian.
Soon after, the assistant editor of the Collegian contacted Krason and McCollister, explaining staff positions would be open the next fall and encouraged them to apply.
“He said that even though the Weekly was all tongue-in-cheek, he could tell that we had the ability to do real writing. If we applied, he’d make sure we were hired. So we did!” Krason said.
McCollister added, “People thought that we were just goofing off, but I think that we wouldn’t have been as successful had we not been serious about journalism and writing. As English and Communications majors, we used the Weekly as a creative outlet to exercise our skills.
“When the Collegian came a-calling, we jumped at the opportunity, because in our hearts we were serious writers that knew how to write parody, not bums who couldn’t write in a serious style,” he added. “Although, between all of the writing, we spent some serious time sitting on our bums.”
The next fall, Krason became the News Editor and McCollister took the role of the Online Editor. As the Online Editor, McCollister designed the Collegian’s first website, which won the top award at the Baptist Press Awards that first year.
The Whitt Weekly became widely known around campus, along with the masterminds behind it. After being on staff with the Collegian, Krason and McCollister were asked to host Homecoming Follies, which they did for three years.
“We were recruited by the Admissions Office and Student Activities to produce videos on various topics like tips for surviving MC. I guess, looking back, it’s not hard to see why the Weekly got less and less frequent,” Krason also explained.
Although the Weekly seemed to have taken a dormant stage for some years, it will soon see light again. Krason and McCollister recently launched a new site, The Tim and Brian Project, to serve as an archive for all of their work they did at MC through the Krasonian, the Whitt Weekly, follies, and more.
Students, faculty, and staff can visit the archive at TimAndBrianProject.com.
– Jordyn Gunn, Online Editor