The Auburn Plainsman will be partnering Wednesday with student newsrooms across the nation to participate in a day of action to #SaveStudentNewsrooms.
More than 90 college news organization nationwide have signed up to participate in the event as of Monday, according to the event's organizer, Melissa Gomez, managing editor of The Independent Florida Alligator, the student newspaper at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
Newsrooms participating in the event will share editorials highlighting the importance of student editorial control, campus-wide discussion of important issues and the struggles that student newsrooms face on a daily basis. Students, alumni and community readers are encouraged to show support on social media or donate.
Student newsrooms are often a reliable source of not only campus news and current events but local community news coverage, too, serving as needed resources in many towns and cities.
The urgent financial problems facing Southern Methodist University's student newspaper, The Daily Campus, and many others like it, prompted the event.
Like many student news organizations, The Daily Campus ran for years without help from student fees or university funds, operating mostly off of its advertising revenue and donations. Facing fiscal problems, The Daily Campus recently announced it will re-affiliate with its university, raising concerns of a loss of editorial control.
The Daily Campus wouldn't be the first newspaper to re-affiliate with its university after facing financial hardship. And it wouldn't be the first to lose control of its editorial process and operations, either.
Student journalists across the country are asking the community to help support student newsrooms, which are suffering from a lack of financial stability.
Some newsrooms fear becoming affiliated with their university will lead to censorship. Others, which are already university-affiliated, face budget cuts when they properly report on their student governments or university administrations. Some papers have been forced to drastically cut down circulation or worse, shut down.
While The Plainsman has been able to maintain financial independence — refusing student fee money while operating solely off advertising revenue — it, too, has faced its fair share of struggles in recent years, the editor said.
"It would be misleading to say that The Plainsman hasn't faced the same hardship other student newspapers and community newspapers have faced in recent years," said Chip Brownlee, editor-in-chief of The Plainsman. "We've cut circulation and slashed student salaries while doing more with less."
The Plainsman began publishing in 1893 as The Orange and Blue and last year received its 20th National Pacemaker Award, one of the highest honors in college journalism. At the same time, The Plainsman was inducted into the Associated Collegiate Press Hall of Fame.
On April 25, The Plainsman will post editorials, showing the inside of their newsroom while highlighting issues that have been suppressing student journalists for years.
The newspaper hopes alumni will share testimonials of the importance of student newsrooms and editorial independence. Supporters can make donations to The Plainsman through this online web portal.