What does $10,000 mean to you? I can say for student journalists, it means a lot.
Surfing the Internet, I came across an article by the Business Insider about the student newspaper at Boston University. Like The Delta Statement, BU’s student-run newspaper, The Daily Free Press, was on the verge of dying out because it would no longer be able to afford print costs for publication. According to the article, the newspaper launched a page on GoFundMe in an effort to raise the much-needed funds.
Just two days later, BU’s FreeP exceeded their goal of $67,953.19. They received almost $20,000 from small online donations, $50,000 from local car dealer Ernie Boch Jr. and $10,000 from Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.
It’s not often that I quote Bill O’Reilly or agree with him on the same issue, but in the article on the Business Insider’s website “BILL O’REILLY: Here’s Why I Donated $10,000 To Save Boston University’s Student Newspaper,” O’Reilly explains the rationale behind his decision to those who may not understand why a man of wealth and power would choose to donate such a small, but meaningful sum from his own bank account just to save a student newspaper.
“The paper was that [unifying force], because it was during the end of the Vietnam situation and there was a lot of stuff going on … It was the one vehicle that gathered students together,” O’Reilly said in the article.
As a former columnist for The FreeP, O’Reilly was able to gain experience in journalism, and according to the article, the positive experiences he had as a former staff member “motivated him to help keep it afloat.”
Later in the article he compares journalists to professional athletes because of the competitive environment. “You have to get experience, you have to train,” O’Reilly stated in the article.
And what better way for student journalists to gain real-world experience than writing for their campus newspaper. Student newspapers encourage free speech and provide students the resources they need to gain practical experience in the field of journalism to prepare them for future jobs.
In fact, DSU President Bill LaForge echoed the need for a student newspaper in a previous article published in The Delta Statement stating, “The paper gives the whole DSU community a journal of events and happenings from around our campus. It gives us that voice from the Fourth Estate.” Needless to say it is quite a disappointment that the President’s Cabinet voted unanimously to cut $10,000 from the student newspaper’s budget, when it serves as the voice of the campus community.
I can’t say I’m totally surprised, though, by the cabinet’s decision. The first time I met our CFO Steve McClellan, I introduced myself as the Editor-in-Chief of The Delta Statement and during our conversation he suggested the newspaper go digital. I will admit that I didn’t take his comments seriously at the time because I see the student newspaper as an important part of my academic and vocational training, not as an after-school project.
JOU 215, or Newspaper Workshop, has been a core requirement of the journalism curriculum. Participating on the Statement staff provides students an opportunity to hone their skills, and many staff members have been hired to work for newspapers in the “real world” after they graduate. It is at a student newspaper where you can practice skills in layout, editing and reporting so that you will have the experience you need when you apply for a job. Just as a coach would never sign a football player who has never played the game before, a newspaper won’t want to hire a journalist who has no prior experience in print journalism.
And as O’Reilly points out, a strong newspaper “provokes debate.” They provide a forum for students to gather opinions and facts to present information to the public. To the president’s cabinet, there may not be much of a difference in uploading information on the Internet instead of publishing in a newspaper, but for those of us who actually are journalism majors, it means a world of difference.
It may seem like we are just an extension of the communications and marketing office, but we are not. We try to cover all important activities on campus, and not just advertise blood drives, sporting events, beauty pageants or the next show at the BPAC. But to quote O’Reilly one last time, we have at the same time tried not to be a “pain in the butt” to our administration, even though O’Reilly claims The FreeP was during his time as a writer.
But we do have a responsibility to examine the decisions that are made by university officials that affect students’ lives and education.
In exploring all possibilities for budget cuts, the university came up with over $1 million in savings. The $10,000 from the student newspaper’s budget represents only 1/100 of the total savings. It’s the equivalent of one penny on a dollar, but that 1/100 of the pie was a big, important portion to The Delta Statement, and we are sad to see it go.