Student newsrooms are in danger. Despite not being a part of the “mainstream media,” it seems even student newspapers are struggling to stay afloat in the wake of the “fake news” era.
Over the last decade, student-run publications at universities across the nation have either had to lose their independence or, worse, close their doors.
On March 23, the Unversity of Southern Maine’s student newspaper, The Free Press, was dissolved of its 501(c)(3) status and placed under the umbrella of the university’s business office.
Even more recently, Southern Methodist University’s The Daily Campus announced it will reaffiliate with the university, raising concerns about whether the school will exercise control over its content, according to the Student Press Law Center.
Is Eagle News next?
It’s important to note that though Eagle News is affiliated with FGCU, it’s editorially independent. There’s an advisory board that oversees the organization’s business operations and safeguards its students’ freedom of speech.
With that said, Eagle News has been encumbered by fiscal woes in recent years.
A decrease in funding from FGCU Student Government combined with a loss in ad revenue — which is seemingly plaguing the majority of the print-media world — has forced Eagle News to cut back on production costs.
Over the course of 2016 to 2017, the amount of pages in the weekly newspaper was reduced from 16 to 12 and the quantity of newspapers in circulation for each issue decreased from 2,500 to 1,500.
These difficulties pose a threat to Eagle News’ ability to disseminate information.
As Thomas Jefferson said, a well-informed electorate is a requisite for democracy, and that’s what journalism does: inform the electorate. But student journalism does so much more. Of course university publications hold the institution and its components accountable, but more importantly, they create a sense of community.
Whether its reporting on the campus preacher, Greek life, Police Beat or etc., Eagle News fosters a united, yet pluralistic campus. This phenomenon isn’t anomalous.
Students at publications all over the nation spend countless hours working on building this atmosphere at their respective campuses.
However, students aren’t the only ones with something at stake. This threat to collegiate journalism is a risk to the validity of news that’s yet to be reported. If fewer opportunities are present for students interested in journalism, in-turn there will be fewer experienced journalists, allowing corruption and cronyism to fester in the professional world.
It’s time to stand up and save student newsrooms. In this day and age, there’s too much on the line to stand idly by.