College newspapers benefit both students and staff.
Free Press Campus newspapers can do more than writing about politics and classes, they have a unique role on campuses informing students, getting them published, even being student’s own private eye.
Free press on campus goes beyond simply informing students, to creating change on campus, and even holding schools accountable to their students. The stories that are covered by campus papers are typically completely overlooked by local papers, but are of great importance to their student audience, such as ASG elections, construction on campus, and new school policies.
“[Student press is] Getting students published [and] giving them an opportunity to get published.” said Courtney Murphey, editor in chief of the Whitworthian. “It’s giving them an opportunity to talk about what they think is important.”
Murphey writes articles for her paper almost every week, as well as editing, and strongly believes in the benefit that the paper staff gain from working to put out the paper. Her vision for the paper this year includes recruiting a larger staff.
Another editor in chief, Gabriella Ramos of WSU’s Daily Evergreen also supported the paper’s benefit to the reporters and staff.
“[Campus journalism] teaches real journalism to students more than classes can,” said Ramos. “They learn hands on experience, and high professional standard, meeting professional expectations, and making hard decisions, staying ethical in reporting.”
College press gets dramatic sometimes as well. Press often serves as a private eye on campus, investigating and reporting on many policies, elections, administrative decisions, and even scandals.
“If the paper wasn’t there, administrators would be unaccountable, and nobody would know about student government elections, sports, or spending,” said Ramos, “Students are not aware of how much they rely on this information”
Ramos’s paper is the only free paper in the area, and the only one to cover campus stories. One such story made a splash on campus when the president of the republican club, James Allsup participated in the “unite the right” Charlottesville rally. This story sparked a big reaction on campus as readers were shocked to hear this about their campus figure. After the story came out local newspapers picked up the story, and Allsup has since resigned.
Similarly, Murphey has investigated on campus as well, including digging into school policy during debate about chartering a political club. The article that The Whitworthian published brought old bylaws to light, bringing about changes to club bylaws on campus. Often, college papers find themselves in the position of investigating the schools themselves.
It is the responsibility of campus press to inform the students about the spending of school funds, student government elections, and new policy decisions. This coverage helps hold schools accountable to their students, and connects administrators with their students to ensure that student interests are being served.
“Keeping schools accountable is a big part of what student media does.” Said Mike Heistand, legal consultant and attorney for the Student Press Law Center.
Heistand cited a recent case, in which the Technician, of North Carolina State University was wrongfully removed from the impeachment meeting of student body treasurer John Taylor Willis.
“All this was being done behind closed doors,” Heistand said. “They challenged student government action, and made sure everything was done in an upfront way, making sure that students were represented.”
Click here to read the full story can be found on the Student Press Law Center website.
Heistand’s nearly 30 year long career with the Student Press Law Center has also convinced him of the impact that student press can have in affecting change.
“Change happens typically with young people. They’re not tied to the status quo,” Said Heistand. “Protests on campus bubble out from college campuses…ideas bubble out, and have an impact on the larger populus.”
It is this influence for change and impact on campuses that has kept Heistand so interested in helping student press.