By Joseph Chapman
The Jambar is an ever-expanding family of journalists. On our 90th birthday, Jennifer Kollar, Jambar editor-in-chief during 1993, looks back at her time at Youngstown State University. She arrived on campus in the fall of 1989 to begin her journey as a Penguin. Like many students, she was unsure of what she wanted to do, but after receiving some advice from her father, a professor at YSU at the time, she chose to pursue the newly created major, a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and editing.
Kollar knew she wanted to get involved in extracurriculars, which led her to becoming a reporter for The Jambar. She discussed meeting the editor at the time, Rick George, and her first assignment.
“He interviewed me and he’s like ‘Here’s your first story.’ And my first story was they had this big penguin statue that somebody had created, an artist on campus. He’s like, ‘Go get the details on this. Put together this story,” she said. “‘Here’s your deadline.’ I did it. I returned it on time. And he’s like, ‘Oh, okay. Do you want to do another one?’ So for that whole year … whatever they needed, I would go do feature stories, news stories.”
Each year she continued to forge her legacy, first becoming assistant editor, then news editor and finally, the editor-in-chief.
“During the years I was involved in the newspaper, Youngstown State was winning football and was bringing on the national championships. So there was an excitement on campus. So I went to a lot of the games as a student … The ‘90s were good times,” she said. “I knew people that were, like, in the National Guard that were students at Youngstown State. They were being shipped overseas. There were some protests on campus at the time at the big rock. There were a lot of budget cuts when I was an editor, too. So there was a lot of different things, good stuff, bad stuff.”
She also discussed how much has changed in the field since she graduated.
“I mean, just from going to interviews, we use the little reporter notebooks. And I remember sitting down with the budget director and taking notes nonstop [saying], ‘What did you say? Can I repeat that? Can you repeat that?’ So it was just a lot of paper, a lot of typing, a lot of composition. There was no layout design, like how you guys can lay out a page and see it. Everything was typeset on this huge computer called Compugraphic. I think he’d shoot and it would lay out your stories. And then you actually had to use wax and cut and paste and we had big light boards.”
She reminisced on how different working with photos was back in her day.
“We would take pictures on The Jambar camera or we would send [Charlie Deitch] out. And then he would bring that stuff and we had a bona fide working darkroom right in our office space. And he would do the pictures and then we would pick and choose what pictures made it into the paper. All black and white,” she said.
After graduating, Kollar found a career in public relations after a difficult job search where she worked as a freelance writer for different local publications including Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator. She said many of her skills from being an editor were transferrable. Her first job was the director of communications and development at the YWCA of Youngstown. That led her to her current job with Mahoning Valley Children Services.
“Everything that I learned at Youngstown State and at The Jambar I have incorporated into my job. I write newsletters, I design newsletters, I copywrite, copyedit, proofread, I concept, I buy media, I design ads, billboards, publications — I still develop publications,” she said. “I talk to the media now so I’m the main media spokesperson for children’s services. So anytime the media calls, I’m the one that will field the phone call and make that statement or provide the facts and the information that they need for the story that they might be doing.”
Kollar said The Jambar and YSU played a large role in helping her to transition easily into a successful future.
“It really did prepare me for where I’m at today and gave me the confidence and the skills. Having a great communications background and the ability to write … [and] design you’re going to do well in this field,” Kollar said.