Home Tag "Journalism"

When the Student Newspaper Is the Only Daily Paper in Town

 

Dan Levin’s recent article in the New York Times reports the impact of 2,000 newspaper closures on more than 1,300 small towns and cities and how some of the coverage is picked up by the local college paper. Most of the article revolves around Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the Michigan Daily provided local coverage after the Ann Arbor News shuttered its daily print operation more than a decade ago. More than 300 students write for the Daily, a number made possible by the size of the school and that all of them are unpaid. Although the University of Michigan does not have a journalism school to provide them education and training, the students understand the need to cover their local community. The Daily prints about 7,500 copies each day with much broader readership of its electronic version, which garners nearly 500,000 monthly page views.

 

One challenge of having students cover local news is that their tenure as reporters is short, two or three years at most. By the time many establish connections with local politicians or understand the workings of the local city council, they’re moving on to graduate school or employment. Sometimes their lack of institutional knowledge subjects their coverage of a municipal issue to the political spin of the elected official they interview. Residents of Ann Arbor interviewed for the story are grateful for the local coverage even though several yearned for the past when the News published daily.

 

Why Balanced Reporting Still Matters

I attribute my love of writing to encouragement at an early age from my first and second grade teachers. It seemed natural that I would volunteer to write for the school newspaper as an extracurricular activity in middle school, high school, and college. There was a pecking order to the news organization at each level, with new reporters given minor assignments and, as you gained experience, more interesting ones. If you chose (or were chosen) to go the editor route, your reporting assignments were less frequent, you edited other articles, and you could have a chance at writing an editorial or op-ed.

As an editor, I learned about the power of the press and the importance of discussing a potentially controversial article or editorial with the editorial board prior to publishing it. High schools and colleges are relatively close-knit communities, and the odds are high that the people you write about you may have to engage with regularly. More than once, the editorial board suggested that I discuss the issue at hand with the administrator whose actions prompted the proposed editorial before publication. These weren’t easy discussions, but they provided more clarity to the editor(s) and editorial board, while providing a heads-up to the administrator that our paper was planning to report on the decision or incident.

It’s Time For All Of Us To End Fake News (Or Fake Truth)

As part of the 2016 presidential election and the post-election analysis, the topic of “fake news” was discussed almost as much as the email hacking of the Democratic National Committee.  With both sides pointing fingers, conservatives at progressives and vice-versa, it’s clear that both sides were successful in distributing “news” that their followers could post on Facebook or Twitter and opt for broader distribution of the “truth” vis-à-vis their political perspective.