Issue: Journalism is under attack all across America, and #SaveStudentNewsrooms Day serves as an important reminder that college newspapers are not exempt from being subjected to this widespread ridicule
Our stance: Student newspapers deserve the same respect as other local newspapers, as they do equally important reporting for their audience and face the same challenges local newsrooms face.
Declining revenue, false cries of fake news, and a general under-appreciation for journalism has hurt newspapers from coast to coast, but #SaveStudentNewsrooms Day provides people the opportunity to take a moment and consider what they can do to support journalism at their schools.
WKU’s Student Government Association approved a resolution Tuesday that would install a $5 fee for students to go toward WKU’s student publications, which is a monumental step in preserving the campus’ student journalism.
WKU has an enrollment close to 20,000 students, meaning that just $5 from students would equate to roughly $100,000 a semester in financial support to one of the best college newspapers in the country.
That money creates a bigger travel budget for reporters, allowing for more extensive coverage of WKU sports teams and more in-depth feature stories that might not take place directly in Bowling Green. It also possibly grants digital staffers at the College Heights Herald better equipment, leading to even better production on top of the incredible work they already do.
Most importantly, some of that new revenue could help the Herald fund its defense in a lawsuit where it is being sued by WKU for attempting to uncover sexual misconduct by faculty and staff at the university. Censorship doesn’t only come from the government, and WKU’s lawsuit still remains an egregious attempt to silence voices trying to share the truth, especially in the #MeToo era.
Each student paying an additional $5 a semester is how Hilltoppers show they support free speech and appreciate those who uncover and report information for them.
Students paying $5 is a perfect example of how a drop in the bucket makes a difference. Turning less than what someone makes in their hourly wage into thousands of dollars is an incredibly simple way to make a difference.
WKU would not be the only school that has a policy like this, as the Kentucky Kernel at the University of Kentucky has a student fee, and is notably also being sued by its host university over the attempt to uncover information about sexual misconduct on campus by faculty and staff.
If a student newspaper can be taken to court like any other newspaper, then they deserve the same appreciation as any professional newspaper. Students journalists at the College Heights Herald simultaneously hone their skills at WKU while also serving the students at the university before graduating and taking their improved skills elsewhere.
Student newsrooms can partially be saved by a small amount of funding from each student, as the various contributions add up to a huge amount. It can also be saved by students being outspoken about injustices they see, like a university attempting to sue its own newspaper for attempting to report the truth.
These things won’t entirely save student newsrooms, but it can help reverse the attacks that have been taken against them.