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EDITORIAL: #SaveStudentNewsrooms — the importance of student media


The Daily Athenaeum editorial

It’s often said that college campuses are places where ideas can be shared and discussed in many different ways. After all, how many places offer the combination of thousands of individuals with many different viewpoints and life experiences?

Colleges and universities offer students the opportunity to learn with one another, but perhaps more importantly they offer students the opportunity to learn from one another. Someone who grew up in a large, sprawling city can gain a completely different perspective on the same issue or issues from someone who lived in a more rural location during their formative years.

The sharing of ideas, viewpoints and opinions can also extend to what college students consume, and a large part of that is student media. Student newspapers, radio stations and other outlets are ways for the campus as a whole to gain different perspectives.

For example, if a student newspaper can allow those from diverse backgrounds and situations to write for them, they can show how various areas of that campus see those issues. Someone who grew up in a state and attends a public university within that state will likely see an issue differently from someone who is from a completely different country altogether.

The relevance of student media has recently come up in the news and on social media with the emergence of the #SaveStudentNewsrooms hashtag. The hashtag was created by students at the University of Florida, namely those who operate the independent newspaper The Florida Alligator. Their activism was spawned by Southern Methodist University’s decision to re-affiliate with the university in an online-only capacity, according to ABC News.

Budget cuts and decreases in funding have severely affected college newspapers in recent years, somewhat coinciding with the emergence of both social media and an increasing reliance on technology for news. The College Media Association conducted a survey last year and found some alarming statistics to support this trend.

The CMA found that 30 percent of its members were forced to reduce the amount of papers they printed in an effort to save money, and around 20 percent reported an expected loss of between 10-20 percent of their advertising revenue.

The situation that college newspapers in particular face is somewhat bleak, but that in no way means that they should be given up on or cast aside. Many of our great writers, editors and others who work in media honed their craft at their college paper. They were able to make connections and friendships that lasted long beyond their time in the newsroom.

Losing the college newsroom would mean losing a bridge to potential employment and important networking opportunities for media majors across the country. This could prove to be extremely catastrophic at a time when media is undergoing a very drastic change.

To reiterate, student media is important for a number of reasons, but perhaps more than anything else it is an outlet for students to have their voices heard on campus, as well as for them to report on what matters to the student body as a whole. No one knows college campuses better and more intricately than the students who live on them, and depriving them of the opportunity to chronicle their college journeys due to funding deemed more appropriate elsewhere would be a massive oversight.

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