Quod Novum was born of the wave of democratization that swept over Dutch universities in the late 1960s. It was the predecessor to the current independent online platform, Erasmus Magazine, which has provided the students and employees of Erasmus University with information on the goings-on in academia since 1997.
Hein Meijers was Quod Novum’s editor-in-chief from 1971 to 1986. “We were among the first university newspapers to use illustrations. Rob Figee created three to five illustrations for each issue. He and I had great chemistry; I would call him and tell him about the ideas we had for our articles, and he never had to be told twice. Illustrations draw people into a story, but they also add an extra dimension to an article. I wanted Quod Novum to look cheerful and have a bit of levity. I didn’t want it to be as gloomy as certain other university newspapers in the country.”
‘We didn’t take anything into account’
Quod Novum didn’t have any kind of censorship, says Cor Klaasse, who first served as a managing editor, then went on to become the university newspaper’s editor-in-chief (1986-1994). Basically, everything went, regardless of whether it was a text or an illustration. “We never decided not to publish an illustration because we felt it might be a bit much. We didn’t take anything into account.”
Erasmus Magazine still uses a lot of illustrations to make the journalists’ stories more powerful. To me, personally, illustrations entirely have their own value. Even more than photographers, illustrators can create images that play a part in the debate EM seeks to engender at the university.
I share my predecessors’ opinion that illustrations must have a certain lightness to them: humour as a tool to address certain issues. In addition, I’m proud that EM not only works with award-winning illustrators such as Bas van der Schot, but also finds room in its ranks for young Rotterdam-based illustrators. And that we use new types of illustrations such as ‘memes’.
Wieneke Gunneweg is Erasmus Magazine’s editor-in-chief since 2008