An edition from Spring 2010
Independent journalism generally begins in one of two ways: someone notices a void in journalistic coverage of a topic, area or population and decides to try to fill it, or someone thinks that a publication’s coverage of something they care about is shitty, so they try to show that they can do it better. In the case of Cake magazine, the most “underground” journalistic media source at Ithaca College since the foundational years of the magazine I co-edit, Buzzsaw, the latter is true.

 Then-sophomore Ryan Bryant had written a few music reviews for The Ithacan, the college’s weekly newspaper, and he disagreed with the style and management structure of the paper. So he banded together with fellow music aficionados who felt variously unhappy with the way the existing publications on campus (including Buzzsaw and Imprint Magazine) handled music criticism. He decided to start his own and become editor-in-chief. Bryant wanted to focus on Ithaca’s local music scene, not on mainstream music, and feature whatever groups he wanted to.

 At Cake, he explained, “We’re a fan of people who don’t approach their music in the way that people like Rihanna or Katy Perry approach their music.” He added that the magazine is very democratic and purposefully without a rigid leadership structure. He said, “Every writer brings what they want—the writers really control the magazine.”

In its first semester, back in spring of 2009, Cake operated like a truly underground publication, surreptitiously printing 200 copies each month with the Ithaca College library printers, stapling them together and coloring in the magazine’s title with Sharpie marker. Since becoming an official, Student Government Association-sanctioned club, the magazine has expanded its print run to 300, using SGA funds to pay for the IC Printing & Duplicating services. They have been incredibly successful for a new organization, printing 4-5 issues each semester and even coordinating a Cake-stamped concert with Caution Children and These Electric Lives. Just last month, they published their 14th edition, and they've been written about by The Ithaca Journal and The Ithacan, the very publication they rebelled again. 

Even without the shady, print-on-the-downlow style that formerly defined Cake as a defiant “indy media” source, Bryant says the magazine has been able to maintain its independent spirit by continuing to publish whatever the writers and editors feel is interesting, without hierarchy, without taking orders from any higher-ups and by focusing on artists that have that indy edge themselves. Past editions of Cake have featured interviews with musical artists like Sia, Imogen Heap, Blitzen Trapper and Love & Logic, the band of IC alum Paul Canetti.

Bryant, a cinema & photography major, graduates this spring, and while he doesn’t have plans to continue with music journalism and reporting in any official capacity, he does encourage students with a similarly unsatisfied media desires to create their own rather than contribute to something they feel is unsatisfactory. How’s that for a slice of sweet advice? 

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