Save student newsrooms

Published 9:14 pm Thursday, May 3, 2018

There was nothing more exciting, or nerve-wracking, than walking into the newsroom at Virginia Wesleyan College when I was a sophomore.

I got my first assignment, and I gave it all my effort. I even worked on it during some of my classes.

No, the story wasn’t particularly important, but I made sure it was important to me.

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That was my first taste of journalism, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Naturally, after falling in love with journalism I fell in love with the First Amendment. It was something we had framed and hanging in the newsroom.

We started doing stories that would make anyone uncomfortable. We covered sexual assaults. We covered a security officer getting run over. These stories required a lot of work and required us obtaining information that wasn’t easy to get our hands on.

What made matters a little more difficult was the fact that at Virginia Wesleyan, the college fully funds the newspaper. We got revenue from small ads, but almost 100 percent of the funding came from the school’s budget.

On top of that, it’s a private college, and trying to get information isn’t easy.

Without the student newspaper, people wouldn’t have gotten honest and objective information about what was happening on campus. Having a student newspaper is a necessity, because the newspaper serves as a way to hold the school accountable. Without journalism, it’s hard to know the truth.

Thankfully, the school appreciated what we were doing, for the most part, and they didn’t seem to intervene during my time on staff.

Other colleges and universities are not so lucky. Some of them have to return to school funding because they simply cannot support themselves anymore. When this happens, administrators attempt to control the flow of news or stop investigations from happening.

This cannot happen. It’s important to support student newsrooms.

Support them by donating to your alma mater’s publication.

Urge university presidents to support editorial independence.

Alumni should get involved.

Reach out to community student newspapers.

It’s important to save student newsrooms, and it’s important to support good journalism.

Anyone can support by visiting www.savestudentnewsrooms.com and following their “Get Involved” link. They have donation links set up for student newsrooms around the country.