The University of New Mexico’s student-run newsroom, the Daily Lobo, is competing in College Media Madness, a fundraising competition among student newsrooms across the nation, for the second year in a row. Donations can be made to the Jim Fisher Fund, which will go directly to the Daily Lobo, here from the start of the competition on Sunday, March 13 until the competition ends on April 6.
The College Media Madness fundraiser was created by the University of Syracuse’s independent newspaper, the Daily Orange. The fundraiser raised over $96,000 last year from over 1,000 individual donations, and the Daily Lobo raised just under $1,500.
“It's just a fun way to gain some exposure and to highlight the trust struggles that are happening,” Daven Quelle, UNM Student Publications business manager, said. “And it's always fun to compete, get some excitement going.”
Currently, the Lobo’s biggest source of funding comes from advertisements, whose revenue has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Quelle.
Both Quelle and Editor-in-Chief Megan Gleason said that the Lobo could use some updates in the technology department as the computers offered to the staff often fail during crucial printing and editing times. If a reporter were to need equipment for an assignment, the Lobo does not have a system where students can rent out laptops or recording devices to work with, Gleason said.
Technology is not the only issue that needs resolving at the Daily Lobo or at a majority of college newspapers. Most student journalists don’t have to be paid because they legally serve the community, not an employer, according to the Student Press Law Center.
“It's actually rare for a student newsroom to pay their journalists at all, which is kind of mind-boggling to me because you're doing the exact same work as a professional journalist. You just happen to be a student,” Gleason said.
Managing editor John Scott echoed the same sentiment as Gleason regarding college journalist pay.
“People just aren't getting paid enough for the job that (they’re) doing,” Scott said.
Until the spring 2022 semester, there hadn’t been a raise for student journalists at the Lobo in about 10 years, according to Gleason. All reporters’ pay increased by $2 with pay now ranging from $18 to $22 per full content article. Gleason and Quelle said they hope that pay raises become more common moving forward.
Despite emphasizing the importance of college newspapers like the Daily Lobo, reaching out to students for readership, let alone donations, can be rough for reporters, according to Scott.
“It's kind of an uphill battle because you're trying to reach this audience that isn't really listening ... I think just being able to emphasize not only the importance of us receiving the funding but the importance of what it is that we actually do here and the importance of the newspaper as an organization,” Scott said.
Gleason, Scott and Quelle emphasized the responsibility of the Daily Lobo not only to report news to the UNM community but also to help young journalists start their careers and build experience while in college.
”If we don't have students coming up through journalism programs with experience (at) their college newspapers, how do we continue that tradition and maintain that foundation?” Quelle said.
Gleason hadn’t considered pursuing a career in journalism until she joined the Daily Lobo, where she climbed from reporter to culture editor to news editor to now being Editor-in-Chief. She plans to continue reporting full-time after graduating with inspiration from the Daily Lobo.
“I found a passion that I never thought would carry me this far,” Gleason said. “It’s something that I love doing. I have a job that I love.”
Annya Loya is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @annyaloya