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The Importance of Student-Run Newsrooms

Our office is a mess, but it’s home. PHOTO/ Elizabeth Starace
Our office is a mess, but it’s home. PHOTO/ Elizabeth Starace

By Sandy Mui

Published: May 2nd, 2018

Apparently, April 25 is Support Student Journalism Day. I learned about this when Professor Don Hecker of the English journalism program posted about it in the BC Journalism Program Students Facebook group on April 26. Well, I’m obviously a week late to Support Student Journalism Day, but I don’t need to devote one day of the year to advocate for student journalism. Supporting student journalism should be something we do 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

According to the website, “Save Student Newsrooms” is “a campaign to educate people about the challenges facing student-run newsrooms.” Over a hundred student-run newsrooms are participating.

The Excelsior faces its fair share of issues by being affiliated with Brooklyn College (BC). Like many other campus newspapers, there are concerns of editorial independence, and I personally refrained from publishing an article last semester due to a fear of backlash from school administrators. 

Then, there’s the especially unique financial position The Excelsior is in. Beginning this semester, the staff was placed on Brooklyn College payroll, which unfortunately meant accounting fees were taken out of our budget. This left us with enough money to print half the amount of issues we normally print, and we were only able to salvage money for five of this semester’s last six issues because one of our editors did not pick up their paycheck. If that isn’t the textbook definition of a challenge related to “financial independence” that a student-run newsroom faces, I don’t know what to say.

It’s rather unfortunate that many student-run newsrooms across the country endure similar problems. As everyone who has ever contributed to a student newspaper knows, writing for a student newspaper is the easiest way to get published. Those who have contributed on a managerial or editorial level also know the difficulties of sustaining the student newspaper every week, whether it’s getting enough articles to fill all the pages or getting everyone to meet deadlines. From that standpoint, the editors and managerial team could be some of the most hardworking people you meet and are seriously devoted to the craft of journalism. 

Sometimes then, the student newspaper becomes much more than just a resume booster or a way to gain experience in the field of journalism. I’m sure that’s the case with our editor-in-chief Samip Delhiwala, our managing editor Zainab Iqbal, and layout editor Elizabeth Starace who practically live in The Excelsior’s office. I could argue the case for myself as well, since I have a sense of pride from transforming from a sports-only writer who waited by a campus newsstand every Wednesday morning for the papers to be delivered, into a writer and web manager who has written for every section of The Excelsior.

It may not be April 25, but I’m still supporting student journalism. And I always will be.

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