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College newspapers face many of the same challenges as other print publications outside campus walls.
Rising costs and reduced ad revenue mean many student-run papers must choose between reducing publication frequency, charging readers for their print publications or online sites, launching crowdfunding campaigns, requesting donations from alumni or others, or – often as a last resort before moving to online only or shuttering entirely – depending on their institutions to provide financial support.
This last option not only eliminates financial independence, it usually leads to the loss of editorial independence, a critical component of honest reporting.
These newspapers, staffed sometimes by hundreds of students, are the training grounds for future journalists. A paper’s loss of independence or its elimination entirely is a blow to the finding and sharing of information to the campus, the community, and to those looking to begin a career in media.
Deciding to Act
Yet not all is lost. Student journalists are banding together in a campaign called Save Student Newsrooms to elucidate the value of maintaining viability and editorial independence via events, social media, editorials, and articles. Also, as local newspapers fold over rising costs, college papers have an opportunity to step in and fill the gap to maintain a steady flow of information outside campus grounds.
Of the 1,700 or so college newspapers in the U.S. and Canada, we want to highlight a few in particular.
With these and other great college/university outlets in mind, we join the call to #savestudentnewsrooms and preserve independence for those up-and-coming journalists who will be shaping the future of media.
1. The Daily Pennsylvanian, University of Pennsylvania
Founded in 1885 and publishing almost continuously since then (not counting the break for World War II), The Daily Pennsylvanian has a knack for connecting a Pennsylvania angle to national news stories, making a diverse array of content relevant to its readers. The student-run nonprofit is led by a 10-member Board of Directors composed of students and alumni and a 10-member student Executive Board. This independence from the university allows student journalists to cover difficult topics, such as immigration, politics, and crime, and appear unfazed about expressing criticism of happenings on campus.
2. The Queen’s Journal, Queen’s University
Founded in 1873, The Queen’s Journal at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, is one of the oldest continuously published newspapers in North America and has a circulation of about 3,000. In addition to articles on sports and lifestyle, the roughly two dozen journalists also write about meatier topics such as on-campus racism, the results of a sexual violence survey, and cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program.
What you should be reading: Attacks on student journalism only reinforce its necessity
3. The Famuan, Florida A&M University
Florida A&M University’s newspaper is a collaborative effort between the general student body and those at the School of Journalism & Graphic Communications. Started in 1919, The Famuan vows to cover “all sides of an issue” using “thorough, analytical reporting,” as evidenced by its coverage of gun rights, sexual assault, and student government. For those looking to add to their journalism skills, FAMU offers a scholarship to undergraduate and graduate members of the National Association of Black Journalists.
4. The Oberlin Review, Oberlin College
Founded in 1874, The Oberlin Review is one of the oldest college newspapers in the U.S., with circulation of about 2,000 on and off the campus. While the print edition only is available during the academic year, articles are available and updated online year-round and content may be submitted by both students and residents of Oberlin, Ohio. Recently, the newspaper broke tradition and published a passionate and critical editorial against the media and its portrayal of the legal repercussions stemming from a racially charged conflict between Oberlin students, the college itself, and owners of a local bakery. But don’t worry, the Review can manage the lighter content just as deftly. Who’s up for a parade?
5. The Daily Orange, Syracuse University
According to The Princeton Review, Syracuse University’s The Daily Orange is the best college newspaper in the country, and it’s not hard to see why it has earned that spot. This is a publication that does not shy away from difficult topics, whether it’s sexual assault allegations of a (now) former student or its arguably most famous breaking coverage of recent years, the suspension of a fraternity for a racist video in April 2018. Founded in 1903 and independent since 1971, The Daily Orange publishes about 6,000 copies and reaches an online circulation of about half a million during the school year.
6. Washington Square News, New York University
Founded in 1973, Washington Square News is one of the younger newspapers in this list, but its influence runs far – it has an estimated circulation of about 10,000, with readers around NYU’s various campuses in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and globally. The newspaper claims editorial independence as its most valuable asset, saying “…our best stories are ones those in power would prefer the public not see.” Two journalists unveiled a project analyzing the future of journalism, recognizing increasing violence against journalists and decreasing trust in the media as contributors likely changing the face of journalism in the future.
7. Kentucky Kernel, University of Kentucky
Kudos to the Kentucky Kernel for stepping up as a news source for people outside campus walls. Founded in 1908 and boasting 6,000 print copies offered for free around campus and in downtown Lexington, the Kentucky Kernel is as much a city newspaper as a university print publication. In between the police blotter and local events, the editorials are beautifully written and direct – although I wish there were more of them.
What you should be reading: We have to do better.
8. el Don, Santa Ana College
For anyone who might say that a community college newspaper can’t compare with larger universities and their 150-plus-year-old newspapers, they haven’t read el Don. This news-magazine, founded in 1990, was inducted into the Associated Collegiate Press College Journalism Hall of Fame in 2008, an honor given to fewer than 70 newspapers in the past 30 years. It’s also won more than 20 Associated Collegiate Press National Pacemaker Awards, College Media Association’s Pinnacle Award for Two-Year Newspaper of the Year, and its journalists have won more than 1,500 individual awards.
9. The Rocky Mountain Collegian, Colorado State University
The independent newspaper of Colorado State University began printing in 1891 and continues to publish four times a week during the academic year. Owned by Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation alongside five other media outlets on campus, The Collegian regularly wins recognition and awards from The Associated Collegiate Press and The Society of Professional Journalists. It is one of about a dozen university partners in a ProPublica project to build a database documenting hate crimes and bias. In addition to a robust variety of topics, The Collegian also includes Spanish-language content for its Spanish-speaking readers.
10. The Ubyssey, University of British Columbia
The Ubyssey, the independent, student-run newspaper at the University of British Columbia (if you say its acronym quickly, you’ll stumble on the derivation of the paper’s name) functions as a collective where student contributors are eligible to become part of the staff and the student body elects members of its governing body, The Ubyssey Publications Society. The paper supports itself through opt-out annual student fees and advertising and is a founding member of the National University Wire.
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Author Alexa Hoffman is PR Newswire’s director of US distribution products, which reaches thousands of outlets as part of the broadest group of US-based journalists, consumers, bloggers and investors in the industry. Follow her at @PRNlgbt, where she co-curates PR Newswire’s Twitter channel dedicated to LGBT news and culture, and connect with her on LinkedIn.