In the midst of all the television, radio and media news, it is safe to say that content is constantly being thrown at us in one form or another. Besides traditional news broadcasts or live updates on Twitter or Facebook, many colleges produce their own student-run newspapers and rely on them for student perspectives on hundreds of topics. However, it is common for some student-run newspapers to struggle, especially financially. Some newsrooms have even shut down in the past and become the property of the communication or journalism departments of their universities. If it is no longer the students’ voices, why call it a student newspaper?
Introducing #SaveStudentNewsrooms, a campaign created by three University of Florida students who saw the struggles college newspapers face and wanted to make awareness of it. College Media Network sat down with Jimena Tavel, one of #SaveStudentNewsrooms organizers to hear more about the campaign’s inception and its effect on students around the globe.
Tavel explained that when she and her two friends took over as the managers of The Independent Florida Alligator in Gainesville this spring, they knew they wanted to connect with other student journalists. “We worried about The Alligator struggling financially, and we saw other publications were in trouble, too,” Tavel said. “We started talking about the issues we all faced and how to move forward. So, the idea was always in the back of our minds.”
However, the instance that triggered the movement specifically was when the team found out that the independent newspaper at Southern Methodist University was dissolving in May and going to be under the control of the school’s journalism department. “We were appalled by the news and, frankly, threatened,” Tavel said. “It all started with this tweet asking if anyone knew student journalist leaders who would be interested in making an official connection.” The girls then created a Facebook, followed by a website, where alumni could share testimonials about their experiences working in newsrooms.
The #SaveStudentNewsrooms crew was overwhelmed with the support. “We had more than 130 newsrooms join the campaign for our day of action, April 25,” Tavel told CMN. “I think none of us expected it to blow up as much as it did, but we’re shocked and grateful so many people care about college journalism.”
Although the future of #SaveStudentNewsrooms is unknown, Tavel is hopeful for what it will entail. She hopes that their campaign catches the attention of large organizations like the Knight Foundation and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The girls also are excited about the possibility of university alumni and professional journalists reaching out to contribute. “We hope [#SaveStudentNewsrooms] will spark multiple conversations among college journalists as they figure out what their collective future holds.”
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