J-school director vows he won’t let student newspaper die

The Daily Egyptian | The Torch | College Media Matters

The board of trustees at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale may eliminate a proposed student fee that supports the school newspaper, the Daily Egyptian. Some trustees “asked if the paper had considered going online or weekly,” Karsten Burgstahler reports.

The newspaper “has payroll costs of more than $500,000 a year and online ad revenue of approximately $30,000 a year, meaning transitioning the paper online isn’t feasible,” Burgstahler reports Daily Egyptian faculty Managing Editor Eric Fidler said.

“I’m not certain that the board has fully considered the ramifications of putting [the fee] off for a year,” he said. “It almost certainly means the end of the Daily Egyptian and, not too long after the end of the Daily Egyptian, I believe you’ll see the end of the School of Journalism.”

Reached by email Thursday, SIU j-school director William Freivogel said he was at a board meeting where he planned to ask the board to reconsider tabling the fee. He agreed the paper’s future “would be threatened” if the fee goes down. “But I have no intention of shutting down the paper,” Freivogel wrote. The Daily Egyptian “is approaching its 100th birthday in 2016 and has turned out top journalists around the country,” he said. “But suffice it to say I’m not going to let the DE die.”

In other student newspapering news, officials at St. John’s University in New York informed journalists at independent student newspaper The Torch on April 29 that they planned to move its offices to a space that “currently hosts three graduate assistants,” Kieran Lynch writes for The Torch. The Torch currently has 13 editors and two business managers, Lynch writes. On Instagram, Torch Editor-in-Chief Samantha Albanese said the new digs, in Room 130 on the floorplan below, are “a closet-like space“:

Lynch writes there’s “speculation that this decision may have been in response to Torch coverage of difficult issues over the past couple of years.”

Asked about this line, St. John’s spokesperson Elizabeth Reilly tells Poynter in an email the plan is part of a “larger realignment designed to maximize office space efficiency for the approximately 130 student organizations that are housed at St. John’s University.” She continues:

At present, the Torch shares office space with two other student organizations. This plan gives the Torch a new, private room that is equal in size to the space they are currently assigned. Discussions between Torch representatives and administrators within Student Affairs to address options and design plans are ongoing at this time.

Lynch, a former editor of The Torch, reported the story independently, and the article carries a note saying it “was edited by former Torch editors and was not viewed by the current Torch staff before publication.”

Via email, Albanese told Poynter she attended a meeting with administration officials, and “The overall tone of the meeting was positive.” Together they planned “to go over The Torch’s needs in terms of office space. The staff hopes that we are now getting the voice in the decision-making process that we should have had from the beginning of the discussion months ago.”

Related: College newspapers are following students online, but will revenue come along, too?

Correction: An earlier version of this story didn’t specify that the student fee at Southern Illinois University is a proposed fee, not a current one.

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