The Auburn Plainsman has been around longer than The Creed. Longer than the rolling of Toomer’s Oaks. Longer than the Eagle’s Flight. And — depending on who you ask — longer than “War Eagle.”
That’s why we, at The Plainsman, are participating in Support Student Journalism Day. This campaign, created at the Independent Florida Alligator, the University of Florida student newspaper, is intended to raise awareness of the benefits of student media and the importance of supporting it.
You can use the hashtag #SaveStudentNewsrooms to share your support, your thoughts, your experiences or even your complaints. For alumni of The Plainsman, we invite you to share how The Plainsman affected your life.
And, if able, you can support our work by making a donation.
Our newspaper has been published, in some form or another, since 1893, making it one of the oldest continuous institutions on Auburn’s campus.
In our 125th year, our paper is largely digital-first. Thankfully, forethought and our financial position
The Plainsman has continued its tradition of excellence, too, earning our 20th National Pacemaker, the highest honor in collegiate journalism, last year. At the same time, we were inducted into the Associated Collegiate Press Hall of Fame.
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While we have had our fair share of successes, we haven’t been without struggles. Like any small newspaper, The Plainsman has struggled to adapt our revenue streams to the post-Great Recession era of the internet and digital news.
At the end of the spring 2017 semester, we faced a large deficit and have been operating under deficits for years. Over the course of a decade, we nearly obliterated a once-massive contingency fund that had built up over the golden years of the newspaper industry.
It was depleted to the point last year that our deficit would have been too much to keep going. The Plainsman could have shut down. Or we could have been forced to accept University funding.
We wanted neither. Shutting down would have meant ending a 125-year tradition, and taking University funding would put us in
If you think neither is possible, look back to 1999, when former
And before that, in the 1960s, former President Ralph Brown Draughon, the precursor to the University Communications Board and Dean of Students Jim Foy intimidated and suspended writers and disqualified a potential Plainsman editor candidate as retaliation for what the powers at
Those opinions were in favor of integration.
Fortunately, we have faced neither censure nor censorship in recent years. The University has been a great partner to The Plainsman in many aspects, but we still fear that losing our financial independence could infringe upon our editorial independence.
Thankfully, we haven’t. With hard work and sacrifices, we pulled ourselves out of the deficit by the start of the new fiscal year in October, making a marginal profit for the first time in years. We’re on track to do the same this year.
We optimized our distribution, dropped student salaries and cut extra spending. We redesigned our print edition, launched a new website and put our feet to the pedal in advertising.
Our staff is made up of students of all ages, majors
Our staff balances part-time jobs, social lives, student involvement and classes with our work here — just like any other struggling college students.
The only difference is our job is for you and every reader who comes across our links online or picks up one of these old things we call newspapers.
Unlike other student organizations, we don’t add to your student fees. We don’t take money sourced
We need you, and you have been there for us. We sincerely thank you for reading our newspaper, subscribing to our newsletter, following us online and advertising across all of our platforms.
We’ve been lucky to have an Auburn Family that supports us.
Other student newspapers haven’t been as lucky.
Many have been forced over the years to stop printing or re-affiliate with their university. Some have been censored, others lost control of their editorial and business processes. Their newspapers changed forever — and not for the better.
Even though we avoided a catastrophe last year, it would only take a small slip up or a dip in advertising revenue to put us back in a precarious situation.
Losing our editorial control or losing The Plainsman altogether would change the face of Auburn’s campus forever. It would silence the oldest and most consistent voice for the free exchange of ideas and the most consistent advocate for progress in Auburn’s history.
Over the years, The Plainsman has covered the most controversial issues on campus with integrity and by following our motto, “A Spirit that is Not Afraid,” a line taken from The Creed.
Our only goal is to give you — the students and the public — the information you need to make an informed decision.
More than that, The Plainsman is an outlet for students to express their opinions and foster discussion. We highlight your organizations, and we ensure students’ voices are heard. This newspaper is also a breeding ground and learning lab for future journalists.
The only way we can continue to do any of that is if we remain financially and editorially independent.
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