PrometheusNo Longer PublishingBy Tongyan Lin
Prometheus, MIT’s monthly newspaper about responsibility and freedom, has disbanded after two issues, said Tara R. Diduch ’06, the editor in chief.
Prometheus was granted provisional recognition by the Association of Student Activities in September, after a multi-month hard-fought effort by the paper. But the publication never fully achieved ASA recognition, she said. Diduch said Prometheus was given 60 days to file the paperwork, but the group chose not to.
Prometheus, which published last April and May, closed down after the October issue continued to be delayed and Diduch stepped down as editor in chief. When Diduch stepped down, the paper disbanded since “there was no one to take over,” she said.
Paper falls short on time, people
“I was taking on too much responsibility for the time or experience I had,” Diduch said.
The paper’s founder, Scott D. Schneider ’00, said that the newspaper fell apart because it “didn’t have a big enough staff.” They “didn’t do a great job recruiting at the beginning of the year,” he said.
Diduch estimated that, per issue, 12 to 15 people put in significant effort. However, she said the key problem was that Prometheus tends “to have a smaller number of longer articles which involves a lot of editing.”
“I really wish more people would have come to meetings and been involved,” Diduch commented, “but I don’t think it would have helped given the size of the publication.” The members “continued to be excited” but just didn’t have enough time, she added.
Schneider said that though around 15 to 20 people signed up for the mailing list at the Activities Midway in the 2003 Freshman Orientation, they “didn’t do enough to follow up.”
Diduch thought that Prometheus did not attract many new members at the Activities Midway because they were not established enough as a group. “The freshmen never really responded or came to meetings,” she said.
Christine R. Fry ’05, the outgoing editor in chief of The Tech, said she did not think The Tech’s staff-sharing rule, which forbids Tech staff members from also working for “a competing publication,” should be blamed for Prometheus’ collapse.
“It’s a person’s choice who they write for, and we can’t help if they choose one or another,” she said.
Fry said that Prometheus members would be welcome at The Tech. “We’d love to have staffers who are interested in in-depth analysis,” she said.
Sheeva Azma ’05, a former staffer, said she “thought it was really good and worked really well,” but quit because she “just didn’t have time to work on it.”
ASA requires viability, uniqueness
Prometheus had been trying since March to obtain ASA recognition, which can give funding, an Athena locker, the ability to reserve rooms on campus, and other privileges. The ASA had initially accepted the April publication of Prometheus as proof of the group’s viability, which is required for recognition.
Kathryn M. Walter ’05, the ASA president, said the ASA has received a lot of requests for new publications, but the ASA has not granted recognition to them because the potential publications could be sponsored by currently-existing student groups with similar focuses. One of the requirements listed on the ASA Web site is that recognized groups do not “overlap with any existing groups on campus.”