On April 25, over 100 student-run publications across the country came together to show the importance of remaining viable and independent from their universities. As advertisement revenues have plummeted over the years, more and more student newspapers have had to downsize their operations, rely on alumni donations, or surrender their autonomy to their college through re-affiliation. The #SaveStudentNewsrooms movement has been growing since last Wednesday as an increasing number of publications feel their existence’s being put in jeopardy.
So, why does it matter that student-run newspapers have independence? Wouldn’t they be posting basically the same content? While many of the topics may not change, the level of truth and censorship would be drastically affected. Take Emily Kressley’s article exposing President William F. Slocum. By going through the student-run operations, she was able to help reveal an ugly truth that resulted in the name change of one of our campus’ most well-known buildings.
It is hard to predict the alternative of processing this story through the school, but there is the possibility that it could have been censored due to the factual evidence of which Colorado College is not likely proud. Without autonomy, organizations such as The Catalyst face threats of censorship, abridged freedom of speech, and a depletion of overall enthusiasm from both readers and writers.
The prospect of re-affiliation and administrative oversight from university officials is viewed as a loss of freedom and autonomy. With writers no longer allowed the opportunity to pursue stories they are genuinely interested in, it not only kills enthusiasm from the inside out, but it also takes away the training ground for future reporters and journalists.
If the current White House administration were to seize control of various newspapers, it is unlikely that most reporters would dig deeper for unsavory truths, as it could jeopardize their employment. In the case of student-run publications, this fear of administration censorship could result in a habit of pleasing one’s superiors, instead of rocking the boat, to maintain their positions.
Student-run publications are not reporting solely on the happenings of our college bubbles. Without autonomy, The State News At Michigan State may have never covered the sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. national gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, and The Daily Orange may have never broken news surrounding a racist campus fraternity.
The enthusiasm and passion brought by young writers cannot be replicated in any other fashion than through independently run publications. The main issue is funding. With an increase in technology and online publications, old-fashioned reporting and journalism have declined over the years.
So, what can be done to help? According to Melissa Gomez, editor-in-chief at The Independent Florida Alligator, “We’ll be challenging student-run publications to show off their newsrooms in videos on Twitter. We hope you flood Facebook and Twitter with editorials, threads of your best work of this year, current student and alumni testimonials, and links to your donate button. For alumni of student-run newsrooms, we encourage you to share what being part of student-run journalism meant to you and [to] reach out to your former student newsroom to make sure they’re involved. If able, consider donating to your old newspaper (or get your well-off accounting friends to do so). Encourage others to as well, and share the posts from your former student publication.”