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Student-run publications band together for #SaveStudentNewsrooms campaign

Posted at 7:39 PM, Apr 24, 2018

More than 100 college newsrooms across the country plan to flood social media with editorials emphasizing the importance of student media on Wednesday, as well as calls for alumni donations.

It's all part of a campaign called #SaveStudentNewsrooms -- an effort spearheaded by the editors at the Independent Florida Alligator, the student paper at the University of Florida. Editors there said they learned that Southern Methodist University's paper -- The Daily Campus -- would have to re-affiliate with the university due to lack of funding.

Lack of funding is an issue that various student publications around the country have been facing, as it puts editorial independence in jeopardy.

"The whole idea behind the call to action day was to start a conversation about the state of student media in the US," said Melissa Gomez, the editor-in-chief of The Independent Florida Alligator. "Some people who may be removed from the university and or their publication may not realize that student newsrooms don't look like they did 20 years ago. Some of them have folded. Some of them are struggling to survive the next month. Others don't really have a secured future. And we want people to be aware of that."

The Independent Florida Alligator is still separate from its university, but Gomez said it has faced other issues, such as a 7% pay cut across the board for its staff and other financial constraints.

Gomez and her fellow editors plan to spend Wednesday pushing online content to raise awareness for #SaveStudentNewsrooms and highlighting the editorials of other student-run publications, she said. Some of of these editorials have already been posted on the campaign's website.

The Daily Orange, the student-run paper at Syracuse University, is one of the 117 publications that will be participating Wednesday. Last week, the paper published a video of Syracuse's Theta Tau fraternity chapter exhibiting "extremely racist" behavior, after the university said it would not be releasing the video, according to Alexa Díaz, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Orange.

"I think that was the power of independent journalism as well, is that we were able to do that and able to put that content out there, and we're not telling people to watch it or not watch it," Díaz said. "We just believe in the accessibility of information being a platform where community members can watch these videos and formulate their own opinions accordingly."

Along with posting an editorial, Díaz said The Daily Orange will be showing off its newsroom in a Facebook live video and sharing staff photos for Wednesday's event. The paper's staff also plans to urge its alumni to participate.

"I'm extremely proud of our staff and I think when it comes to the independence factor and being students, everyone likes to say, 'Oh you're the student newspaper,' or, 'Oh you're a student journalist,' but I mean student journalism doesn't really exist, it's just journalism," Díaz said.

Even after the unofficial Support Student Journalism Day is over, Gomez and her peers plan to continue raising awareness.

"We're still going to be advocating for a conversation about the state of student media to happen," Gomez said. "Because we don't want these papers to just disappear and fold or be under the control of their university without editorial independence, because at that point they stop being a resource for their community and they just start being a public relations arm."