Despite industry struggles, students still want to be journalists

Despite industry struggles, students still want to be journalists

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The Daily Orange, which has covered Syracuse University for over a century, reduced their frequency of print issues to three a week, an occurrence happening with several college newspapers.

Haley Robertson, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, worries about finding advertisers and alumni donors who will cover the newspaper's expenses, including those to send their reporters on the road to cover the university's sports teams.

But the budget cuts and media distrust that seems to have been gaining traction over the past few years haven't deterred young, optimistic students who still want to pursue their journalistic dreams, training in classrooms and in student-run newsrooms.

"When I look at local news and see what's happening, I'm pessimistic," said journalism professor Kathleen Culver, adding, "When I look at 18- and 20-year-olds and see what they want to do, I'm optimistic."

"Seeing the layoffs and seeing newsroom cutbacks is really disheartening," said Catherine Leffert, Robertson's managing editor. "But what keeps me wanting to be a journalist and wanting to do it here is seeing the effect that the D.O. has. It's really cool and exciting."

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A CMA survey indicates that 35 percent of school newspapers have reduced their printing in an effort to save money, reports AP News. Five percent have started publishing online only, and a few have had to abandon their papers completely.

College Media Association president and adviser to the University of Vermont newspaper Chris Evans said several college papers shut down, just like local town newspapers and publications have across the country. Many of them are supported by student feeds, and offer their staff members a very small amount of money.

According to Maddy Arrowood, editor-in-chief for the University of North Carolina’s Daily Tar Heel, the newspaper is no longer daily – it was reduced to three days a week after its directors realized they were nearly bankrupt. The paper reduced the staff's payment and moved into a smaller office.

“I spend most of my time very aware of our financial situation,” she said. “We’re always trying to tell the newsroom that your goal is to produce the best content that you can and be an indispensable resource for our readers.” Despite her worries, Arrowood says her experience draws her to a journalism career even more, adding that her optimism “comes from knowing that people still need news, they still need information, and I’ve gotten to see that in a lot of ways.”

“I’m willing to meet people where they are," she said.

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Howard University's Hilltop printed its first edition this semester, while fighting a $280,000 debt. University of Missouri's Maneater printed twice a week, then reduced to once a week. Now, the paper prints once a month. The newspaper's editor Leah Glasser noted that staff members are required to pay annual dues, to work for it. “It’s so difficult to hear, ‘we don’t have enough money,’” she said. “We hear that a lot. As a generation, that doesn’t make us turn around and go home.”

Some publications, including the Daily Orange and Daily Tar Heel, don't charge the university or its students, unlike most papers.

“At some universities, they have to approach student government directly and ask for funds, and there have been some instances where student government doesn’t like the coverage, so they deny it,” said Tammy Merrett, faculty adviser to the Alestle at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. “Luckily, that doesn’t happen here.”

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