Staff editorial: Help your local student publication

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Kansas is one of the best states for both professional and student journalism. Just look at the Kansas City Star, who was recently named a finalist for a Pulitzer; look at the students here, who broke the story on a former president of the college, Charles Carlsen, who was accused of sexual harassment in 2006.

If these incidents hadn’t been covered, student media would be under attack for not covering such events. However, matters of importance cannot be covered with our budgets being so severely cut.

In the past couple months, college’s across the state are slashing collegiate newspaper budgets and devaluing journalism programs.

At Emporia State University, The Bulletin, did an investigative series on the sexual assault of an undergraduate student. Yet, The Bulletin is still facing a 12 percent cut for the upcoming year.

The Sunflower at Wichita State University received $80,000 of the $158,000 they requested for the 2019 Fiscal Year. As a way to make up the difference, money is being reallocated to offer The Sunflower $25,000 in print and online advertising space.

These are prime examples of how devastating budget cuts can be, especially for student media. Budget cuts shouldn’t be getting this far, so take a stand.

The experience
Student media outlets are important because they allow for the opportunity to gain experience working in journalism. Budget cuts take away this opportunity.

Journalism experience is required for the majority of internships and jobs. Without the experience, student journalists will not be able to find jobs in their respective career fields. Journalism is already a competitive field, don’t take away the experience needed to be successful.

Private and smaller high schools do not always have the same amount of journalism programs as public high schools. Those high school students rely on their college to provide them with journalism opportunities other than internships and courses.

Many collegiate student media outlets are equipped with the technology needed for reporting in this generation. Budget cuts take away the funding needed to provide the equipment. If student journalists don’t have access to the right equipment or technology, then they cannot perform their jobs to the full extent.

What doesn’t work
There are a lot of excuses put out there such as “you should sell more ads,” which doesn’t work. It doesn’t take much to understand that ad sales are down across the board; which affects more than just collegiate newspapers.

The Kansas City Star is struggling too. However, the difference is the Kansas City Star is in an area with many businesses, while most colleges are located in significantly smaller areas with less business.

Solutions
A possible solution is to make sure that you’re being active in showing support for student media.

This can simply be done by actively voting for board members or student senate members who support student media. While being active on social media and putting your voice out there can make the problem known, voting for those who represent your point of view promotes real change.

Another possible solution for some college papers is to go private. This is not impossible, as made evident by Kansas State University’s The Collegian. This student newspaper in Manhattan collects its own revenue, not only through advertisement sales, but also through student activity fees, the sale of yearbooks, phonebooks and mail subscriptions.

If a student newspaper is private, the threat of lawsuit may still linger, but their content cannot be censored by the school and the risk of being defunded is eliminated. Although this is difficult, it is now clear student newspapers cannot expect all funding to come from the school, and the student staff may need to work for the money they need to publish content.

However, while this may be possible in larger cities such as Wichita and Manhattan, newspapers in smaller cities like Emporia would have much more difficulty without funding from the university. While The Collegian and The Sunflower have numerous businesses to reach out to, the number for The Bulletin may quickly diminish.

Student media is a crucial part of college campus’ across the country; don’t let them be devalued and defunded.

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