The notorious “Lehigh lookaway” has long been a Lehigh staple and an inside joke among students and faculty. Now, the saying gains a new meaning as the title of a satirical newsletter which has quickly risen in popularity among the student body.
While created at the start of the fall 2020 semester, the idea for The Lehigh Lookaway began in March when Lehigh closed its doors due to COVID-19.
The creators of the newsletter only accepted an interview contingent on maintaining their anonymity. The newsletter is run by two Lehigh students who wanted to create distinct content for the community.
“Pretty much every college has some sort of satirical newspaper or humor publication of some sort, and we realized Lehigh didn’t have one and we wanted to be the people that did it,” one of the creators said. “We wanted to do a really good job because we basically said, ‘We’re two funny people and we’re going to do this.’”
Torn between newsletter or print publication, the creators interviewed editor in chiefs of satirical publications at Yale, Brown and Boston universities to gain inspiration and insight. Alaina Brotman, ’21, said she was familiar with satirical news publications having success at other universities.
The creators felt a newsletter would be something they could scrap together quickly and immediately start gaining subscribers. In addition to a newsletter, The Lehigh Lookaway is also on instagram @lehighlookaway.
In its first week, the account gained more followers and interaction than anticipated. It continues to gain an estimate of 30 to 50 Instagram followers daily and an additional 50 subscribers with every weekly newsletter.
“It brings up good conversations about things that could maybe be criticized about Lehigh in the administration or in the student body and culture in general,” said Julian Layton, ’22.
The creators have a small team of less than 10 to help write stories, more than half of whom directly reached out to the publication for a role.
“What’s also really cool is, on our Instagram account, people will just DM us ideas,” one of the creators said. “Even if they don’t want to write fully, they’ll send us ideas of stuff to write about, which is awesome.”
The creator was excited to share that The Lehigh Lookaway has received “overwhelmingly positive feedback.”
“It’s always funny when there’s commentary about stuff that’s relatable to you, specifically in the Lehigh community,” Layton said.
The account received pushback once from a follower, which one of the creators said “is kind of awesome.”
“We wrote a story about Marching ‘97,” the creator said. “It was fully out there, it really wasn’t believable, but, you know, it was funny, it was a really well-written article. And we got a comment from someone who I’m assuming is in Marching ‘97.”
The comment criticized the writers for trying to write a “spicy” article and complained they shouldn’t be spreading “false lies” about other organizations.
“I understand the point, I think there is a purpose to what they’re doing,” Brotman said. “I think it can probably be offensive to some people at some points though.”
One reason the creators prefer to remain anonymous is to preserve their reliability.
“Bias is the word we keep coming back to,” one of the creators said. “I think there would be some bias if people knew who was writing it.”
Layton said broadening the people who write articles would improve the site. Layton said it sometimes feels as though the content is coming from a relatively narrow outlook.
“We’d like to get bigger,” one of the creators said. “I would love to personally manage a huge team of people that have fun writing and that write fun stuff. If our Instagram blew up to be huge and we had a team of people working on that, it would be amazing.”
The creators promised a face reveal at 5,000 Instagram followers and recently created a Twitter and Facebook.
“We definitely want to put a stake in the ground and do something big and sort of have this be our big Lehigh impact so 10 years from now we can look back and see that The Lehigh Lookaway continues,” one creator said.
Students interested in writing for The Lehigh Lookaway can contact l[email protected].