To say that newspapers are struggling is a dramatic understatement.
Newsroom staff numbers are being slashed, subscriptions are dwindling and more publications than ever are moving away from print media, opting to go online instead either because of finances or a shift in culture.
Student newspapers, with an even more limited budget and staff than local and national publications, do not go unaffected by these financial concerns.
Today, student newspapers across the country are making their voices heard. From Wyoming to Florida, these papers published editorials leaving no doubt about how important student newspapers are to their campuses.
The movement, named #SaveStudentNewsrooms, was sparked by the editors at the University of Florida’s student paper, the Alligator.
A Twitter thread by the publication’s editor-in-chief, Melissa Gomez, states that the publication received a seven percent pay cut, but is still “lucky."
1/ Thread: Hello. I’m the editor-in-chief of @The Alligator. Since January, we’ve put together a paper three nights a week while providing daily content for our website. We worked through the weekend for March For Our Lives coverage. We sent someone to D.C. We made a podcast. pic.twitter.com/snuGNuElyT— Melissa Gomez (@MelissaGomez004) April 16, 2018
Some schools are not so lucky.
One startling example comes from Southern Methodist University. The school’s student newspaper, the Daily Campus, will have to re-affiliate itself with the university due to the financial stress on the paper — without independence from the university or other bodies, the strength and purpose of journalism is weakened.
Independence allows journalists to report from a more unbiased, balanced standpoint and have a stronger ability to hold those in power accountable. Independence gives journalists the ability to serve the public in a better way by looking for all angles on an issue and ensuring all voices are heard without feeling restricted by another organization.
Today and everyday, the Daily Lobo stands in solidarity with student papers across the world, while using this occasion to remind the University of New Mexico and Albuquerque communities the service this paper provides.
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Though our staff consists of students, we still hold ourselves to the same ethical standards that every professional newspaper abides by. We seek to report the truth, while remaining transparent about our process and always obtaining information in an ethical manner.
Maintaining those standards allows us not only to report on issues affecting the University, but to do so knowing it was done correctly.
The 65 staff members at the Daily Lobo include more than just reporters. The staff includes designers, copy editors, advertising representatives, comic artists, photographers, videographers, delivery, accounting and puzzle creators — all with the single goal of creating the best newspaper possible for the UNM community.
Many are unaware that the Daily Lobo is independent from UNM, receiving most of its funding through advertising. Having this independence means we can report on various UNM bodies, such as the Board of Regents and the Associated Students of UNM, without fear of retaliation through the cutting of finances or resources — ultimately censoring the publication in a negative way.
While this allows us complete autonomy in terms of reporting, it can be a hindrance to our finances.
In 2015, the Daily Lobo changed its printing schedule from running a print issue every weekday to cutting down to two print issues per week — on Monday and Thursday. With ad revenues dropping, a daily model would be impossible to maintain.
In spite of financial difficulties, the Lobo continues to report a variety of UNM issues. Just this year, the publication has covered indecent exposures in Zimmerman Library that security did not report, March for Our Lives in Albuquerque, the athletics department’s struggle with its self-induced debt, DACA recipients, Albuquerque Rapid Transit construction, lectures, fine arts projects, sporting event previews/recaps, student/faculty/staff achievements and much, much more.
Perhaps most importantly, student newspapers allow their newsrooms to gain experience that could only otherwise be earned through time at a larger publication.
This is only exacerbated in New Mexico, where opportunities for aspiring journalists can be far and few between when compared to other states.
As members of the editorial board, we can all say that, although we have learned a lot about journalism through consuming media and taking classes, the most valuable experiences we gained have been here, at the Daily Lobo. The independent student newspaper has given us the opportunity to showcase our work as well as teach and learn from others while fostering a tight-knit, educated community.
In the immediate future, though, student newspapers serve the role of not only keeping the University’s various powers in check, but also covering the University community in ways other media outlets simply cannot.
The Albuquerque Journal, KOB, KOAT and other local news services cannot devote 100 percent of their resources to cover UNM — we can.
The Daily Lobo has been reporting UNM’s news for 123 years, and will continue to do so for the next 123, so long as there are ambitious students eager enough to get to the heart of the stories that make up this University.
Please, join us in supporting the efforts of our student publication, along with many others, to hold the powerful accountable, train students, uphold ethical standards, better serve the community — and ultimately produce well-rounded journalism and journalists.
If student newspapers disappear, a whole new crop of journalists will go with it.
Those interested in helping the Daily Lobo further can donate at unmfund.org.
This editorial was written by members of the Daily Lobo Editorial Board and represents the views of the newspaper. The board can be reached at email@example.com.