Sidelines is the student-run and editorially independent newspaper of Middle Tennessee State University, a public university in Murfreesboro, TN. As of June, 2007, it is published twice a week during the Fall and Spring semesters, and once a week through the months of June and July. Its office is located in room 269 of the John Bragg Mass Communications Building, adjacent to the James E. Walker Library on the Rutherford Boulevard end of campus.
Sidelines was founded as The Signal in 1912, and began publication in the spring of 1913. The paper was equal parts newspaper and literary magazine, and the creative writing and essays of students often ran side-by-side with news articles about the new teacher's school. A lack of money and staff problems caused by World War I caused The Signal to be discontinued in 1918.
The paper returned in 1921 as The Normalite, again as a combination literary magazine and newspaper, although this time, creative work dominated the publication. Finally, after much talk of producing a weekly newspaper, The Normalite went into production as a full-fledged newspaper in 1924.
In 1925, Middle Tennessee Normal School became Middle Tenneessee State Teachers College, and with it, The Normalite was rechristened The Side-lines. This is generally considered the offical beginning of the newspaper now printed at MTSU today, and with the exception of a three-year period during the Great Depression, Sidelines has been printed continuously ever since.
The newspaper has gone through several changes since then: in the mid-1960s, the name was shortened to Sidelines (although, sometimes people will ignore this and still refer to it as "The Sidelines".) In the 1970s, Sidelines switched to a tabloid-sized format, before returning to full broadsheet in the 1980s, only to switch back to tabloid format in 1988 and finally returning to broadsheet format in 1995, which it has remained ever since.
In 1998, Sidelines added the insert Flash as an arts and entertainment tabloid. For much of its history, Flash was primarily focused on the local Murfreesboro music scene. In the spring of 2005, however, Flash editor Brandon Morrison began to expand Flash's coverage into a wider variety of topics- stories included a look at a indy newspaper printed by students and a study on the sexual habits of MTSU students based on the controversial survey of psychology professor Dennis Kramer.
It was hoped that incoming fall 2005 Flash editor Alan Laidlaw would continue this trend. Laidlaw, however, generated a great deal of tension between himself and then-faculty advisor Fern Greenbank by publishing satirical content in Flash. After four issues, Greenbank axed Flash for the remainder of the semester.
Today, Sidelines consists of a broadsheet publication printed on Monday and Thursday with generally between 8 to 10 pages of content and advertising. Exposure, the successor entertainment tabloid to Flash, prints every other Thursday.
As previously mentioned, Sidelines is editorially independent- all editorial staff positions are run by students of MTSU, and the newspaper is, in theory, not controlled by the School of Journalism or the university administration. However, the selection panel for the editor in chief consists of university faculty members, and the point has been raised that this might compromise the newspaper's editorial independence.
Employment with Sidelines is open to any current student of MTSU, regardless of major or classification. The newspaper also published letters to the editor submitted to its office by hand, email, or via its website, regardless of the writer's status or location.
Parts of this node, particularly the early history of the newspaper, are taken from the Sidelines Staff Handbook.