In a world where print news sources are becoming more obsolete, it is difficult for campus newspapers to stay alive.
They are forced to stray from the traditional model of independent funding, from advertising dollars to needing funding from the universities they report on.
This leads to a news source that is afraid to speak out against those in power, for fear of funding cuts, or worse: getting shut down.
There needs to be a safeguard for these newspapers in place where they are allowed the freedom of the pen, without worry of blow-back from the university.
Campus newspapers traditionally run with a typical newspaper model where advertising is sold to businesses and the rest of the paper is filled with stories, articles, and other entertaining content.
With the growing popularity of internet news websites, and the majority of young people choosing to get their news from different sources, newspapers as an industry are taking a hit.
This is especially affecting college newspapers, because their target market is made up entirely of young people who do not read print news as much as they once did. While this change in the industry is impossible to ignore, many people assume, due to the perceived lack of value in print news, that there is no market for a campus newspapers at all.
This is proven to not be true by college newspapers around the country such as the Minnesota Daily, the campus newspaper for the University of Minnesota, which publishes 12,150 copies Monday through Thursday.
The difference in these successful newspapers, and papers that are suffocating, is the lack of value the university puts on an independent news source.
Imagine if the only way students heard about changes coming to the campus was through the university’s newsletters. The students would only hear what the university wants them to hear, causing a rift in what is the truth.
An alternate plan that many campuses are enacting in regard to their newspaper is removing the print aspect from the equation and moving to a completely digital source. While this seems like a great idea, it again shows the university devaluing a news source by the students and for the students. It is shrinking the reach and presence of the news source.
While digital media news sources are most definitely the way of the future for news as a whole, it is crucial that campus newspapers continue to print, as it is not just a matter of distribution of the news, but the institution of the news as a whole.
As a university chooses to downsize the press in any way, it shows a lack of support for a true student voice when it comes to student affairs.
Another product of a campus newspaper is that it is imperative to identify the impact it has on the students working to produce the paper.
Working as a writer, a photographer, editor or ad sales representative is real world experience in a small, controlled environment. Students get to explore a job setting in a possible job field before they even leave the university.
Working together to create new ideas, write great articles, and take amazing photos gives students a platform to create, grow and expand into a possible career after college. With the downsizing of the newspaper to be a solely digital platform, it would eliminate many of these jobs that students are able to thrive in.
With the removal of print will come budgetary downsizing, which would inhibit a campus newspaper’s ability to hire more students.
If a university values the experiences it provides for students, it needs a strong campus newspaper to foster the talents and careers of future journalists, photographers or even salespeople.
It is crucial for universities to protect the student’s right to a voice in the form of a newspaper. An on-campus newspaper also gives its student workers the ability to experience a small-scale version of what it is like to work in the press in the “real world”.
What does it say when a University is trying to quiet the voices of the press, and subsequently, the students?
An on-campus newspaper gives a voice for the students to speak against campus policies and decisions.
It must be a necessity for universities to keep these institutions alive, unbiased, and thriving in order to maintain a healthy campus student body.
Header photo courtesy of Flickr.