The New News: Changing Organizational Structures and Business Models of Student Newspapers

A thesis presented to the

Program in Political and Social Thought at the University of Virginia by Matthew C. Cameron
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts with honors.

April 2013

Advisor: ______________________________ Prof. Bruce Williams

Copyright © 2013 by Matthew C. Cameron All rights reserved.   II  

Contents
Abstract....................................................................................................................................VI Introduction: Student Newspapers Today..................................................................................1 Changing Media Consumption Habits.................................................................................2 Declining Advertising Revenue...........................................................................................7 Timeless Challenges.......................................................................................................... 11 A Moment of Meaning for Student Newspapers............................................................... 15 Chapter One: The History of Student Newspapers..................................................................21 Genesis and Institutionalization: 1830-1949..................................................................... 22 Revolution: 1950-1980...................................................................................................... 27 The Daily Texan...........................................................................................................28 The Cavalier Daily...................................................................................................... 35 Changes Elsewhere......................................................................................................47 Modernity: 1981-present................................................................................................... 48 The Daily Texan.......................................................................................................... 49 The Red & Black..........................................................................................................53 The Cavalier Daily...................................................................................................... 54 Chapter Two: The Organizational Structures of Student Newspapers....................................63 The Daily Texan................................................................................................................ 63 The Red & Black............................................................................................................... 70 The Columbia Missourian.................................................................................................73 The Cavalier Daily............................................................................................................77 Conclusion........................................................................................................................ 81 Chapter Three: Contemporary Business Models of Student Newspapers.............................. 85 Texas Student Media.........................................................................................................85 The Red & Black............................................................................................................... 89 The Columbia Missourian.................................................................................................97 The Cavalier Daily............................................................................................................99 Chapter Four: Managing Student Newspapers in the 21st Century......................................106 Enhancing Organizational Structures..............................................................................106 Improving Business Models............................................................................................119 Conclusion............................................................................................................................ 124 Afterword..............................................................................................................................127 Bibliography......................................................................................................................... 128

 

III  

Tables
1. Print advertising trends at student newspapers....................................................................11 2. Texas Student Media operating profit, Jan.-May 2012....................................................... 87 3. Profit margin impact of shifting to weekly publication at The Red & Black...................... 92 4. Year-over-year growth in Cavalier Daily digital metrics..................................................101 5. Performance-based compensation structure for a student newspaper professional...........113

 

IV  

Illustrations
Figures 1. Percentage of 18-24 year olds who reported getting news from various sources...............5 2. Student newspapers plotted according to student involvement in leadership, independence from university administrations.................................................................82

 

V  

Cameron, The New News, Abstract

Abstract
Student newspapers have a well-established presence at U.S. colleges and universities, and many publications boast histories dating back decades or longer. These publications serve a two-fold purpose of providing news to their campus communities and training students in all aspects of media production. The first component of student newspapers’ mission demands that they have the freedom to produce critical coverage of university news without fear of reprisal from university administrators, student groups, or other constituencies. The latter part of the mission necessitates that student newspapers stay abreast of technological changes that affect the skills required of media professionals. It also means that student newspapers must invest leadership responsibilities in their student members so they can learn how to manage media organizations. Although their mission remains as important as ever, student newspapers are in peril today because of steep declines in print advertising revenue and the decreasing popularity of print media among younger demographic groups in the United States. These two issues are impacting the print media industry as a whole, but there are also other daunting challenges that are specific to student newspapers. For example, student newspapers exhibit exceptionally high turnover and low levels of expertise among their membership because they primarily comprise college students who can serve on staff for a maximum of four years. The result is that student newspapers often struggle to preserve institutional memory and execute long-term plans, two processes that are essential for adaptation to changing circumstances. This thesis explores how student newspapers can address their challenges through alterations to their organizational structures and business models. After a detailed explanation of the problems facing student newspapers and an overview of their histories, the thesis examines the contemporary organizational structures and business models at four prominent student publications at large public universities: The Daily Texan at the University of Texas, The Red & Black at the University of Georgia, The Columbia Missourian at the University of Missouri, and The Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia. The thesis finds that each newspaper exhibits a different level of involvement from non-student staff and board members, as well as a unique degree of financial and operational independence from its university. Finally, each publication deploys a distinctive approach to revenue generation and content production and distribution. The thesis offers recommendations for optimal approaches to organizational structuring and business modeling. The competing ideals of financial and technological competency and autonomous student decision-making can best be realized through an organizational structure that features a majority-student board with a minority of non-student members. In addition, student newspapers should hire professional staff or outsource particular operations in order to improve performance in areas where the student staff lacks proficiency. Finally, student newspapers must undertake market research to determine their audience’s habits and preferences. This information should determine how student newspapers design their business models to produce and distribute content both costeffectively and in formats that are likely to appeal to their audience.   VI  

Cameron, The New News, Abstract The thesis also concludes that student newspapers should be chartered as 501(c)(3) nonprofits that hire their own staff, have complete control of their own assets, and generate their revenue through advertising and donations rather than student fees. Anything short of this arrangement threatens to compromise student newspapers’ ability to execute editorial and business decisions independently, as exhibited by recent and historical controversies between university administrators, trustees, and newspaper leaders.

 

VII  

Cameron, The New News, Introduction

1

Introduction Student Newspapers Today
Newspapers in the United States are facing tremendous strain in the early 21st century. Newspapers that serve college campuses and feature primarily or entirely student membership are no exception. In just the past two years, the University of Oregon’s The Daily Emerald, which had published daily for 92 years, switched to printing twice a week; The State Press at Arizona State University and The Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia, two major collegiate daily newspapers with histories dating back to 1890, announced that in 2013 they would begin printing weekly and semi-weekly, respectively; and The Red & Black at the University of Georgia, another award-winning student newspaper that had switched from daily to weekly print publication in 2011, almost collapsed in the wake of a staff walkout. These developments may seem to signal the demise of student newspapers, but some student journalists see a bright future for themselves and their organizations. “I’ve learned more since October than I have during college overall (and probably high school, too),” said Andy Rossback, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Emerald. “Our community hasn’t been this excited about what we’re up to in a long time. And now, we’ve got plenty of time to do cool shit! It’s a win-win-win!”1 Rossback is not the only student media leader who feels this way. “[I]t is with incredible excitement that we announce a shift toward a digital-first newsroom starting Spring 2013,” read an editorial from The State

                                                                                                               
1

Andy Rossback, e-mail message to author, July 23, 2012.

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction

2

Press in which it discussed the decision to move from daily to weekly print publication.2 The UWM Post at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee wrote, “Our future is bright” when announcing its choice to go entirely digital starting in Spring 2013.3 Despite this optimism, student newspapers must endure greater hazards today than at perhaps any other moment in their history. A brief overview of these challenges will provide context for why student newspapers must update their business models and organizational structures in order to continue fulfilling their mission in the 21st century. Changing Media Consumption Habits People working in the media industry understand that the ways consumers gather news and information are changing. The 2012 Pew Research Center News Consumption Survey showed that the percentage of respondents who said they got news from a newspaper the day before had declined from 56 percent in 1991 to only 29 percent in 2012. The proportion of respondents who got news by watching TV, meanwhile, declined from 68 percent to 55 percent during the same time frame. Finally, whereas 54 percent of respondents reported listening to radio news in 1991, only 33 percent said they did so in 2012. Thus, the audience for traditional media sources is shrinking. But the survey also found the proportion of individuals who get news online or through mobile devices is increasing rapidly. In 2004, only 24 percent of respondents accessed news digitally or online; by 2012, that number had                                                                                                                
2

Editorial Board, “The State Press in a digital age,” The State Press, November 15, 2012, http://www.statepress.com/2012/11/15/editorial-the-state-press-in-a-digital-age/ (accessed November 15, 2012).
3

Editorial Board, “The Post is dead, long live the post,” The UWM Post, November 26, 2012, http://uwmpost.com/ (accessed November 26, 2012).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction increased to 39 percent, surpassing the proportion of individuals who reported getting news from newspapers or radio.4 This trend is even more pronounced among the subset of the population that is the target audience of student newspapers. Among 18-24 year olds, the proportion that reported getting news yesterday from a print newspaper declined from 20 percent to 6 percent between 2006 and 2012.5 In contrast, the proportion of 18-24 year olds who reported getting news yesterday from one or more digital platforms increased from 48 percent to 60 percent during the same time frame.6 Moreover, there was not a single type of digital platform listed

3

in the Pew report that had a utilization rate among 18-24 year olds that was lower than that of print newspapers. Even podcasts and Twitter were used for news by 6 and 7 percent of 18-24 year olds, respectively.7 Pew has also documented an overall decline in the amount of time young adults spend consuming news. Whereas 18-29 year olds reported in 1994 that they spent an average of 56 minutes consuming news the day before, that number was down to 45 minutes in 2012.8 In fact, 29 percent of 18-24 year olds reported in the 2012 survey that they consumed no news                                                                                                                
4

All data from: Pew Research Center, In changing news landscape, even television is vulnerable, 1, September 27, 2012, http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/2012%20News%20Consumption%20Report.pdf (accessed December 9, 2012).
5

Pew Research Center, Americans spending more time following the news, 18, September 12, 2010, http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/652.pdf (accessed December 9, 2012); Pew Research Center, Even television is vulnerable, 10.
6

Pew Research Center, Americans following the news, 14; Pew Research Center, Even television is vulnerable, 10.
7 8

Pew Research Center, Even television is vulnerable, 10. Pew Research Center, Even television is vulnerable, 11.

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction the day before.9 The proliferation of alternative media opportunities helps explain these trends, both intuitively and empirically. As the 2012 study points out, “[F]or young people, news faces stiff competition from a number of other daily pursuits, particularly social networking. Among those younger than 25, as many used Facebook or another social networking site as got news from all sources combined (76% vs. 71%).”10 In addition, 48 percent of 18-24 year olds reported playing a computer, mobile, or video game and 40 percent reported watching non-news TV.11 Thus, all media organizations — but especially those, such as student media, focused on the 18-24-year-old demographic — face a changed landscape in which the amount of time their audience has to devote to media consumption has remained roughly the same, but the number of consumption options has grown.

4

There has also been a shift in the way Americans access the digital media content that is distributed through the Internet. Whereas the vast majority of Internet browsing used to be done on laptop and desktop computers, mobile devices are becoming an increasingly popular portal for Internet users. A 2012 Pew survey about cell phone usage found that 75 percent of cell phone owners within the 18-24-year-old cohort reported using their cell phones to access the Internet or email.12 That same survey reported that 45 percent of cell phone users within

                                                                                                               
9

Pew Research Center, Even television is vulnerable, 10. Pew Research Center, Even television is vulnerable, 13. Pew Research Center, Even television is vulnerable, 13.

10 11 12

Aaron Smith, “Cell Internet Use 2012,” Pew Research Center, June 26, 2012, http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Cell-Internet-Use-2012/Main-Findings/Cell-Internet-Use.aspx (accessed December 9, 2012).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction the 18-29-year-old age bracket said they went online mostly using their phones.13 Mobile devices are now a crucial access point for media content, particularly among young adults,

5

meaning that traditional business models predicated on delivering news to readers once a day using fixed distribution locations are becoming antiquated. In the 21st century, consumers can and do access content around the clock using devices they carry with them constantly and check regularly.

Figure 1. Percentage of 18-24 year olds who reported getting news from various sources Source: Pew Research Center, Even television is vulnerable, 10.

                                                                                                               
13

Smith, “Cell Internet Use 2012.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction This threatens media such as print newspapers and magazines that once enjoyed the privilege of only having to compete against a finite number of alternative media options

6

vying for consumers’ attention. When individuals used to sit in doctors’ offices, for example, their choices for consuming news were limited to the magazines and newspapers located in the waiting area and perhaps a news channel visible on a television. Similarly, college students walking around their campuses only had a few options for gathering news in between their classes and extracurricular activities. They could pick up either their college newspaper or one of the alternative student or local publications that were allowed to distribute on campus. Now, an individual in a doctor’s office or on a college campus is likely to have access to either a computer or an Internet-enabled mobile device. This forces traditional media to compete with the virtually infinite number of digital media sources that consumers can access through their smartphones, tablets, and computers. Those devices turn every environment that print media once considered a safe haven into a wide-open contest for consumers’ attention. Moreover, the participants in this battle for attention include not only informational media, but also video games, social networks, and other modes of entertainment that may crowd out news as a share of the media content individuals consume. For student newspapers, the change is especially important because it means they are now vying for their audience’s attention alongside professional media organizations ranging from Twitter to The New York Times who can reach students on their computers or cell phones.

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction Declining Advertising Revenue A corollary to the decreasing popularity of traditional media among U.S. consumers is a decline in the amount of advertising revenue those media can generate. For example,

7

overall print advertising revenue in the United States fell from $48.7 billion in 2000 to $20.7 billion in 2011, a drop of 57 percent in a little more than a decade.14 Student newspapers, in addition to commercial newspapers, have felt the pain of this trend. The University of Illinois student newspaper, The Daily Illini, announced in February 2012 that it owed $250,000 in debt and was behind on mortgage payments. The paper, which has been financially independent since its inception in 1871, subsequently submitted a ballot initiative to the student body seeking a $3 per semester student fee to subsidize the paper’s operations.15 Although a majority of the student body supported the fee, the vote came too late for it to take effect in 2012-2013. This left The Daily Illini in a position of uncertainty given its expectation that advertising revenue would remain depressed. “Because we will not be receiving the student fees this fall, further cuts may be necessary,” said Illini Media publisher Lil Levant in May 2012. “This is in large part because ad revenues have declined, as they have for virtually all other professional and student-run media companies.”16                                                                                                                
14

Newspaper Association of America, “Advertising expenditures: Annual (All Categories),” http://www.naa.org/Trends-and-Numbers/Advertising-Expenditures/Annual-All-Categories.aspx (accessed December 4, 2012).
15

The Daily Illini, “Illini Media calls upon students, alumni for financial support,” The Daily Illini, February 16, 2012, http://www.dailyillini.com/news/article_91eee543-aa78-5ca9-a849-199261a5e5f8.html (accessed December 4, 2012).
16

The Daily Illini, “Daily Illini will not receive student fees for 2012-13 year,” The Daily Illini, May 7, 2012, http://www.dailyillini.com/news/article_63767e18-1a80-5394-9d2f-c8ee392a76a6.html (accessed December 4, 2012).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction The Daily Californian at the University of California, Berkeley also fought during 2012 to obtain funding from a student fee. The paper’s leadership cited a 37 percent drop in revenue since 2008 caused by “the advent of the Internet and Craigslist,” the popular online classifieds site, as the rationale for its approach.17 The newspaper lobbied for the institution of a $2 per semester student fee to subsidize its operations, and the student body was scheduled to vote in Spring 2012 on whether to approve or deny the levy. As voting on the initiative began, however, Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC)

8

President Vishalli Loomba issued an executive order striking down the student fee because of concerns about language in the proposed fee that stipulated The Daily Californian would remain a separate entity from the University.18 Loomba noted that University of California policy prohibits the creation of student fees for supporting outside organizations. The student fee battle continued into the spring, as Daily Californian campaign manager Lynn Yu filed an appeal and the University’s Judicial Council subsequently overturned Loomba’s executive order. The Elections Council then announced the results of spring student elections, showing that the Daily Californian’s student fee initiative had passed with almost 60 percent of the vote. The Judicial Council was asked to hear another set of complaints against the fee’s legality, however, and it was not until May 11 that the Council ruled definitively that the fee was legitimate. On July 12, University of California

                                                                                                               
17

Tomer Ovadia, “We need your help,” The Daily Californian, April 10, 2012, http://www.dailycal.org/2012/04/10/we-need-your-help/ (accessed January 18, 2013).
18

J.D. Morris, “ASUC President issues executive order invalidating Daily Cal fee referendum,” The Daily Californian, April 11, 2012, http://www.dailycal.org/2012/04/11/asuc-president-issues-executive-orderinvalidating-daily-cal-fee-referendum/ (accessed January 18, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction President Mark Yudof officially approved the initiation of the fee in time for the Fall 2012 semester.19 The exact arrangement between the University and The Daily Californian remained unclear pending the finalization of a memorandum of understanding between the ASUC and The Daily Californian. The paper has insisted that it will remain editorially independent of

9

the university administration because the ASUC will act as an intermediary that will transfer collected funds to the paper. Nevertheless, 2013 ASUC President Connor Landgraf indicated the student government body would exercise some control over how the funds are used. “We are going to require that it is clear to students that (The Daily Californian is) no longer financially independent,” he said of the terms of a memorandum of understanding.20 Further details about how much influence the ASUC will have upon Daily Californian operations have yet to emerge, but historical precedent at other universities suggests that administrators and student government leaders will demand input into newspaper decision-making in exchange for allocating fee money. Other well-established college newspapers have experienced the same financial troubles as The Daily Illini and The Daily Californian. The Red & Black at the University of Georgia saw its local advertising revenue tumble by about 29 percent from 2005-2006 through 2009-2010. Whereas in 2005-2006 the paper brought in $914,000 in local

                                                                                                               
19

Stephanie Baer, “UC president gives green light to place V.O.I.C.E. fee on Berkeley campus bill,” The Daily Californian, July 14, 2012, http://www.dailycal.org/2012/07/13/uc-president-gives-green-light-to-place-v-o-i-ce-fee-on-berkeley-campus-bill/ (accessed January 18, 2013).
20

Alyssa Neumann, “Concerns linger over V.O.I.C.E. Initiative,” The Daily Californian, August 30, 2012, http://www.dailycal.org/2012/08/30/concerns-linger-over-v-o-i-c-e-initiative/ (accessed January 18, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction

10

advertising revenue, it only earned $653,000 in 2009-2010.21 Similarly, The Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia witnessed a 58 percent decline in total advertising in just five years, as revenue fell from $564,000 in 2007 to $237,000 in 2012. The paper also accumulated more than $80,000 in debt during that time and was forced to eliminate its Friday edition early in 2012 in order to save money that could be used to pay back its printer and landlord. Finally, The Daily Texan at the University of Texas, Austin experienced a 38 percent decline in print advertising revenue between 2007 and 2012. The decline in print advertising crippled the newspaper’s ability to pay for its operations, and it admitted in May 2012 that it had already lost almost $225,000 for the 2012 calendar year. This amounted to a 15 percent deficit, and it threatened to erode the organization’s $498,000 financial reserve.22 Although the economic recession that occurred in the late 2000s explains a portion of the drop in print advertising revenue, the industry’s sluggish recovery since the end of the recession suggests there are larger structural forces pushing print advertising downward. Indeed, an eMarketer forecast released in September 2012 projected that print newspaper advertising revenue would decline another 14.7 percent through 2016, when it would only be $16.4 billion.23 At the collegiate level, The Cavalier Daily has similar expectations. With the aid of a business school professor at the University of Virginia, the paper generated

                                                                                                               
21 22

Harry Montevideo, e-mail message to author, November 5, 2012.

Luke Winkie, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” The Austin Chronicle, May 11, 2012, http://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2012-05-11/whats-the-frequency-kenneth/ (accessed March 31, 2013).
23

Erik Sass, “More declines predicted for newspapers,” September 27, 2012, http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/184002/more-declines-predicted-fornewspapers.html?print#axzz2EgYTjpS5 (accessed December 9, 2012).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction

11

projections in October 2012 forecasting that its print advertising revenue would continue to decline in the coming years and would bottom out in 2015 at only $142,000. Table 1. Print advertising trends at student newspapers Newspaper Print advertising revenue The Daily Californian The Red & Black The Cavalier Daily The Daily Texan -37 percent between 2008 and 2011 -29 percent between 2005 and 2009 -58 percent between 2007 and 2012 -38 percent between 2007 and 2012

The shrinking revenue stream from print advertising is not surprising given the trends in media consumption outlined earlier. Advertisers spend their budgets on types of media that are most likely to reach potential customers. Now that more consumers are focused on laptops, tablets and smartphones rather than print newspapers, advertisers are adjusting their spending habits accordingly. Therefore, student newspapers cannot generate as much revenue from print advertising because they are no longer viewed as the most effective way to reach potential customers. Timeless Challenges Perhaps student newspapers’ greatest obstacles to sustained success, however, are not specific to the present moment. For example, student newspapers must cope with the fact that their core staff turns over every year, leading to deficiencies in institutional memory and staff expertise. This situation arises because the majority of staff members at student newspapers must be individuals currently enrolled in the colleges and universities they serve. No matter  

Cameron, The New News, Introduction how well an individual performs or how dedicated he or she is to the organization, it is unavoidable that he or she will graduate and leave the staff within four or five years. This reality poses a number of problems for student newspapers. As an article on Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab website stated, “One of the biggest challenges college newspapers face is the annual staff turnover. It would be hard for any news organization to

12

carry on institutional knowledge or not suffer drops in coverage if they brought in a new staff every 9-12 months.”24 When students ascend to the highest ranks of their campus newspapers, they learn about policies, procedures, and precedents that most members of the staff never have the time or authority to experience. Upon graduating and moving on to fulltime jobs removed from their campuses and student newspapers, student leaders then take with them a huge body of knowledge that is difficult to bequeath in its entirety to successors. Outgoing leaders also possess extensive expertise in the history and operations of their universities and communities, information that is crucial for student newspapers to know when covering major news events. Another structural challenge inherent to student newspapers is the part-time status of most of their members. Professional media groups can rely on staff to be available around the clock because their roles on the paper are full-time, salaried positions that provide for staff members’ livelihoods. Student newspapers, in contrast, must operate with staff members who split time between working for their newspapers, functioning as full-time students, and often holding down at least one additional job. These competing demands on student newspaper                                                                                                                
24

Justin Ellis, “Why the Oregon Daily Emerald is transforming what it means to be a college newspaper,” Nieman Journalism Lab, June 8, 2012, http://www.niemanlab.org/2012/06/why-the-oregon-daily-emerald-istransforming-what-it-means-to-be-a-college-newspaper/ (accessed December 9, 2012).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction members’ time make it difficult to execute large-scale projects beyond those necessary for

13

simply carrying on the day-to-day operations of the organization. Although a small group of editors and other leaders may be vested with the prestige or financial compensation to allow them to scale back their course load or work hours, most of the staff signs on for a specifically defined time commitment. If additional projects emerge after staff members make this commitment, it may be difficult to induce them to assume added responsibility since it will likely detract from their ability to perform other jobs or academic work. Student newspapers also have a dual mission that is more complex than the purely commercial aims of most U.S. media. Beyond simply informing their campus communities about news and events, student media also are expected to function in an instructive capacity for their student members. This ambition is clearly delineated in the mission statements of many student newspapers. According to The Red & Black, “Our two-fold mission is: to provide a training ground for students interested in gaining experience in various aspects of newspaper publishing and to produce a high quality newspaper for the University of Georgia community.”25 In addition, The Daily Emerald’s stated purpose is “to train University of Oregon students in all aspects of journalism while serving as the primary source of news and information for campus.”26 The student-drafted and -adopted constitution of The Cavalier Daily, meanwhile, says:

                                                                                                               
25 26

“About us,” The Red & Black, http://www.redandblack.com/site/about.html/ (accessed December 9, 2012).

“Oregon Daily Emerald,” Holden Leadership Center, http://leadership.uoregon.edu/get_involved/student_groups/488 (accessed December 9, 2012).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction

14

A. The purpose of this organization is to publish a student newspaper and maintain an online publication directed primarily at the students, faculty and employees of the University of Virginia that will contain educational and informational content not normally or frequently contained in the commercial press and that will devote a large amount of coverage to news, editorials and general student comments of particular interest to the University community. B. A secondary purpose of this organization is to promote interest in the art of daily collegiate journalism and to educate and train students at the University of Virginia in the art of daily collegiate journalism.27 Therefore, student newspapers must take into account the educational needs of their staff in addition to the informational needs of their community when deciding how to conduct their operations. It is necessary to consider the dual mission of student newspapers because changing technological and financial realities are impacting the educational requirements of future media professionals. Today’s media professionals must possess a skill set that is different than what student newspapers traditionally have sought to teach. Specifically, professional media organizations are seeking to hire individuals with experience in multimedia, online content production, computer programming, and social media. This is evidenced by the fact that the “Other Information Services” category of the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment reports has been adding jobs at a much faster rate than the “Publishing Industries, Except Internet” category.28 Consequently, student newspapers must reorganize their operations so they can better teach new skills, rather than continuing to focus on preparing their student members for careers in legacy media formats that are losing ground to digital alternatives.                                                                                                                
27 28

Article III, The Cavalier Daily Constitution 2011-2012.

Matthew Yglesias, “The Decline of Publishing and the Rise of "Other Information Services,” Slate, February 8, 2012, http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/02/08/the_decline_of_publishing_and_the_rise_of_quot_other_inf ormation_services_quot_.html (accessed March 28, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction Many great print and broadcast journalists emerged from their college newsrooms, and student newspapers now must provide the same guidance and hands-on experience to students seeking to carry on the legacy of honest and incisive reporting in the 21st century. Finally, student newspapers must be wary of potential censorship from non-student governing entities. This threat often comes from university administrations because many student newspapers have direct or indirect financial relationships with their universities. Regardless of whether a university owns a student newspaper’s assets, pays its salaries, or provides it with annual student fee subsidies, the goal of objective and uncompromising coverage of university affairs is jeopardized when a student newspaper is financially dependent upon its university. This has been evident in many controversies throughout the past century in which financially dependent student newspapers have faced demands from university administrators who insist on positive coverage in exchange for funding. There

15

have also been more recent instances when student government bodies or non-student boards of directors for independent, non-profit newspapers have imposed policies that have threatened student autonomy in determining the content and strategic direction of their newspapers. A Moment of Meaning for Student Newspapers For all of the above reasons, now is a moment of special meaning for student newspapers throughout the United States. The technological and financial circumstances facing student newspapers are becoming more difficult, thereby creating new obstacles that groups must overcome in addition to their perennial challenges. In some cases this has  

Cameron, The New News, Introduction pushed organizations to the brink of disaster; at others, it has generated innovation and an

16

embrace of new ideas. All student newspapers, however, share the need to adopt and execute comprehensive strategies that recognize and address the interconnectivity of their problems. Consider the matters of consumption patterns and advertising. If the target audience of student newspapers was not shifting its attention away from traditional media and toward digital media, then print advertising revenue would not be in such steep decline. The attractiveness of traditional advertising formats is directly related to their popularity among advertisers’ target audiences. With those audiences focusing on digital rather than traditional media, it is logical that advertisers would move in that direction as well. Therefore, student newspapers must understand that neither the problem of relevance nor revenue can be solved in isolation. Rather, any approach to these challenges must address them in tandem to have a chance at achieving lasting success. Student newspapers must find a way to produce content in formats that their audience is likely to see, and they must prove to advertisers that their new formats are effective. Student newspapers must update their business models not merely for financial purposes, however, but also to enhance their ability to provide vital information to their university communities. Campuses around the country are experiencing controversy and uncertainty as they attempt to adapt to changes in the market for higher education. Public universities must cope with the precipitous decline in state funding, which traditionally has been their main source of revenue. This has caused many public universities to raise tuition, thereby increasing the amount of loan money that students must use to pay for their education. In addition, all colleges and universities are addressing the challenge of expanded  

Cameron, The New News, Introduction enrollment as the U.S. economy requires increasing numbers of job seekers to possess

17

college degrees. Finally, colleges and universities are confronting the disruptive force of the Internet, which is allowing digital higher education providers to compete with existing, brickand-mortar institutions by offering similar services more cheaply and to greater numbers of students. These threats to the traditional higher education model caused upheaval at several prominent campuses in 2012. At the University of Virginia, the governing Board of Visitors forced the resignation of President Teresa Sullivan in part due to concerns about “state and federal funding challenges” and “[t]he changing role of technology in adding value to the reach and quality of the educational experience of our students.”29 The sudden ousting was met with outcry from the university community, which demanded Sullivan’s reinstatement. Emory University also experienced community backlash when its College Dean Robin Forman announced in September the decision to shut down several academic departments and graduate programs. Although Emory is a private university and Forman said the program cuts were not motivated by financial concerns, the sudden nature of the changes prompted a response on campus similar to the one at the University of Virginia following the attempted ouster of President Sullivan.30 Finally, the University of Texas system has been in the spotlight because of an ongoing struggle between the Board of Regents and the University of Texas, Austin President William Powers, Jr. Powers has resisted Gov. Rick Perry’s call for a                                                                                                                
29 30

Helen Dragas, e-mail to University of Virginia mailing list, June 21, 2012.

Laura Diamond, “Emory president, students ‘disappointed’ in talks over cuts, The Atlanta JournalConstitution, December 8, 2012, http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/emory-president-students-discussprogram-cuts/nTQHZ/ (accessed December 9, 2012).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction tuition freeze at all institutions within the UT system, a policy the Perry-appointed regents are currently considering. These types of controversies demand robust, independent coverage from student newspapers. For example, The Cavalier Daily obtained a cache of emails sent to and from

18

the accounts of University of Virginia Rector Helen Dragas and Vice Rector Mark Kington during the six weeks immediately prior to Sullivan’s resignation. These documents illuminated the Board leaders’ thought process, which involved swapping editorials about rapid change in higher education and discussing their concerns that the university was falling behind its peers. The paper obtained these emails through a Freedom of Information Act request and publicized excerpts on Twitter and its website. These emails garnered national attention from outlets such as The Washington Post and helped propel the controversy at the university into a second week when students and faculty organized a “Rally for Honor” to support the reinstatement of Sullivan. In a press release, organizers of the rally directly stated it occurred in response to the emails obtained by the University’s student newspaper. “[We] will gather on The Lawn to protest the lack of transparency within the governing structure of UVA,” they wrote. “We are specifically protesting in response to the evidence of backdoor dealings in the emails recently obtained by the Cavalier Daily.”31 At Emory, meanwhile, the campus newspaper The Emory Wheel rapidly became a central forum of discussion and debate about the academic program cuts. The paper published op-eds and editorials about the controversy during Fall 2012 and has offered                                                                                                                
31

“Sullivan supporters to hold ‘Rally for Honor,’” Faculty Senate University of Virginia, posted June 20, 2012, http://www.facebook.com/UVAFacultySenate/posts/445569325466758 (accessed December 9, 2012).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction relentless coverage of the university administration, budget process, and fallout from the

19

program cuts both in print and on its website under the category “New Directions.” A protest movement known as #EmoryCuts that has sprung up to reverse the administration’s decision to cut academic programs has cited the paper’s work numerous times on its Facebook page.32 Similarly, The Daily Texan has offered significant coverage of the controversy at the University of Texas System and has published letters, op-eds, and editorials regarding the topics at issue. If student newspapers fail to utilize new media formats to disseminate news, however, then they cannot fulfill their role as information providers. With their target audience no longer devoting its attention to traditional media, the value of information distributed through those channels is diminished. Instead, more of the reporting done at student newspapers should be conveyed through the digital media platforms that are increasingly popular among the 18-24 year-old demographic. The effectiveness of these platforms in reaching the student newspaper target audience can be seen through The Cavalier Daily’s successful use of Twitter and its website to publish exclusive email excerpts during the summer when the newspaper was not in print. In addition, the fact that the very name of Emory University’s protest movement, #EmoryCuts, takes its cue from Twitter’s “hashtag” concept illustrates the ubiquity of digital media at U.S. colleges and universities.

                                                                                                               
32

For example: Facebook post, #EmoryCuts, posted December 11, 2012, https://www.facebook.com/EmoryCuts/posts/392462977494688 (accessed December 11, 2012) and Facebook post, #EmoryCuts, posted December 6, 2012, https://www.facebook.com/EmoryCuts/posts/448510621864724 (accessed December 9, 2012).

 

Cameron, The New News, Introduction For student newspapers to make the necessary business model adjustments that will allow them to reach their target audiences, however, they must understand and address the

20

timeless constraints that affect their ability to operate. In particular, the nearly constant staff turnover and part-time status of student members may impede student newspapers as they attempt to plan and execute large-scale strategies for expanding their use of digital media. In addition, it could impact their ability to cover university news. As experts in particular subject matters graduate and leave their organizations, student newspapers will be left with a dearth of institutional knowledge about the news items central to their coverage responsibilities. Finally, student newspapers must carefully control the level of direct involvement that university administrations have in their finances and operations. If administrative figures or university trustees have excessive influence upon the budgetary, personnel, or content decisions of student newspapers, then they can suppress critical coverage of controversies such as those at the University of Virginia, Emory University, and the University of Texas. In the past, student newspapers have been able to manage challenges with striking success. Examining this history will provide context for why student newspapers operate in a variety of different ways in the present day. It will also show how student newspapers can learn from their institutional histories in order to solve contemporary problems.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

21

Chapter One The History of Student Newspapers
Student newspapers have a history that is almost as lengthy as U.S. higher education itself. Throughout their existence, these publications have changed drastically in response to various economic, political, and technological developments. This section will analyze different phases in the evolution of student newspapers, which can be broken down into roughly three periods. The first was the genesis and institutionalization of student newspapers, which occurred from the mid-19th century through the mid-20th century. The period featured the formation of many student publications as private entities independent of their universities, as well as the establishment of university journalism schools that came to influence or control many student newspapers. The second period of student newspapers’ evolution was a revolutionary era between 1950 and 1980 in which publications moved toward independence from their university administrations. In addition, some students created alternative publications during this time period to challenge the traditional papers that dominated their campuses. Finally, student newspapers’ modern era from 1980 through the present has featured the adoption of new technology and a movement away from traditional modes of content distribution and toward new media formats such as the Internet. The modern era has seen less external conflict with universities but more internal debate about the appropriate leadership structure for student newspapers.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One Genesis and Institutionalization: 1830-1949 One of the earliest records of the development of student newspapers was the 1882 publication “A History of College Journalism.” The work featured a collection of essays from student publications at colleges throughout the country detailing their inception and evolution throughout the 19th century, and it included a list featuring about 200 collegiate publications that were in circulation by 1882. The majority of these publications existed at small, private institutions, and some continue to publish to this day, including Harvard’s

22

Crimson (now known as The Harvard Crimson), the Princetonian (now known as The Daily Princetonian), and the Yale News (now known as The Yale Daily News). Few of the publications were daily, and they generally published at most weekly or monthly. Among the papers that wrote about their operations in “A History of College Journalism,” the most common practice was to raise revenue through advertising and, in some cases, a subscription service. Most student editors were chosen each year through student-wide elections. The emergence of student newspapers in the 19th century followed the development of the advertising-supported newspaper business model. Until the mid-19th century, most U.S. newspapers were organs of political parties or catered to the nation’s elite business class. This meant they either generated revenue through political party contributions or subscription fees that cost eight to ten dollars annually, which was roughly a week and a half’s salary for the average nonfarm laborer.1 These business models were infeasible for supporting student newspapers since their readers could not afford the high subscription fees

                                                                                                               
1

Michael Schudson, Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers (Basic Books, Inc., 1978), 15.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One and were not an attractive audience for a party-supported journal due to their lack of enfranchisement.2 The subsequent creation of “penny papers,” however, popularized a business model that could be applied at the campus level. The penny papers derived their name from their

23

price, which was generally one cent per issue. Penny papers were able to charge a lower price because they raised revenue primarily through the sale of advertising rather than subscription fees. Most student publications later depended upon this model to sustain themselves, and the revenue potential from advertising sales in student publications even attracted occasional outside investment from private companies. In “A History of College Journalism,” for example, an account was given of the University Reporter at the State University of Iowa. The publication began in October 1868 but gradually lost ground to the Vidette, which was described as “a little weekly, the organ of a literary society.”3 In 1881, the privately-owned Vidette “absorbed [the Reporter] by incorporating the financial manager with its own management and retaining the class and professional school editors as nominal associates.”4 The fate of the Reporter, however, also foreshadowed later conflict about student newspapers’ independence and their relationship with university administrations. The account of the Reporter in “A History of College Journalism” concluded, “Now, at the close of ’81-2, an arrangement is being made whereby the company gradually return the

                                                                                                               
2

The voting age in the United States was 21 until the ratification of the 26th Amendment lowered it to 18 in 1971.
3 4

S.S. McClure, ed., A History of College Journalism (Chicago: Orville Brewer & Co., Publishers, 1882), 37. McClure, History of College Journalism, 37.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

24

proprietorship and management of the paper to the University.”5 This provides an example of the expanding involvement of university administrations in the production of student newspapers, a development that both enhanced newspapers’ growth and threatened student leaders’ autonomy in the years to come. At other universities, especially public schools, these developments in student media did not take place until later. Although a publication called the Virginia University Monthly was listed in “A History of College Journalism” as existing at the University of Virginia in 1882, it was not until eight years later that a more regular student news publication was produced. Known as College Topics, the publication was founded in 1890 and served as the forefather to what is currently the school’s primary student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily. At Pennsylvania State University — then known as Pennsylvania State College — The Free Lance was initiated in 1887, the first time a student publication is recorded as existing at that school.6 The paper published monthly and went out of business in 1904 due to a failed subscription model, further illustrating the importance of advertising for the sustained success of student newspapers. As the paper’s board wrote in its final editorial, “Smaller colleges than State put out a better weekly than we do a monthly. But these are in towns of greater population than State College, and are supported by good advertising.”7 The Free Lance was resurrected as the State Collegian, however, which published weekly rather than

                                                                                                               
5 6

McClure, History of College Journalism, 37.

The Daily Collegian, “Collegian History,” The Daily Collegian, http://www.collegian.psu.edu/collegianInfo/history.aspx (accessed March 28, 2013).
7

Editorial Board, “Editorial,” The Free Lance, April 1, 1904, http://digitalnewspapers.libraries.psu.edu/Default/Skins/collegian/Client.asp?skin=collegian&AppName=2&A W=1364522042230 (accessed March 28, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

25

monthly. The State Collegian later developed into The Daily Collegian, which remains Penn State’s preeminent student publication. Two publications known as The Ranger and the University Calendar were founded at the University of Texas in 1897 and 1898, respectively.8 These two publications merged a few years later and became The Texan, which began publishing on October 8, 1900 and remains in existence to this day as The Daily Texan. According to The Texan’s first editor, the reason for its inception was due to economics: The University of Texas only had 582 enrollees, which was not a large enough population to sustain two publications.9 Merging the two publications made sense because it would create a singular newspaper whose monopoly on the University of Texas campus would be very attractive to advertisers. Another publication that would later become among the most prominent public school dailies was The Red & Black, which produced its first issue in 1893. Within a few decades of the founding of these student newspapers, many underwent an organizational shift that would shape their development throughout the 20th century. During the 1910s and 1920s, universities throughout the nation began creating journalism schools for the purpose of transforming news gathering and reporting from an occupation into a profession. As with other industries such as medicine and law that began using higher education as a credentialization mechanism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, journalism practitioners realized that controlling the supply of journalists would fulfill their desire for both higher standards and greater earnings. Meanwhile, universities stood to gain

                                                                                                               
8

Tara Copp and Robert L. Rogers, The Daily Texan: The First 100 Years (Austin, TX: Eakin Press, 1999), Chapter 1, Endnote 6.
9

Copp and Rogers, The Daily Texan, 1.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One prestige and additional tuition dollars if they could serve as the gatekeepers into a more legitimized and lucrative profession. To establish control over the effective licensing of a “professional” class of journalists, however, it was necessary for universities to supplant existing student newspapers as the recognized training ground for journalists. Without doing so, students could circumvent the university credentialing process by gaining skills and experience through independent reporting and publishing for private student newspapers. Therefore, journalism schools founded in the early 20th century made a push to establish their own student publications or incorporate existing ones. When the University of Missouri opened the world’s first journalism school in 1908, for example, it launched a student publication known as the Columbia Missourian at the same time.10 Shortly thereafter, the University of Texas established its School of Journalism in 1914, “its nominal purpose, according to the April 1914 issue of Alcalde, to better prepare

26

editors and reporters for the Texan.”11 Thus, the university sought to establish itself as a key player in determining what type of student journalism was done on its campus. The university and its journalism school began exerting even more direct influence upon the Texan when Texas Student Publications (TSP) was founded in 1921. TSP was chartered as an independent organization that would oversee the publication of all student media at the University of Texas, and it marked the end of the Student Assembly’s direct control of the Texan. Although the nine-member TSP Board of Directors was majority-student, it also                                                                                                                
10

“About the Missourian,” The Columbia Missourian, http://www.columbiamissourian.com/p/about/ (accessed March 28, 2013).
11

Mike Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You (But It Used To): How a Student Newspaper Was Robbed of Its Independence,” UTmost, October 1987.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

27

featured three faculty members appointed by the university president. This structure enabled the university administration to influence TSP governance through the selection of board members. Other prominent journalism schools were established during this era, as well. The University of Georgia opened its Grady College of Journalism in 1921, and Northwestern University opened the prestigious Medill School of Journalism in the same year. The University of Florida established its school of journalism in 1925, a little more than a decade after the university began publishing the previously independent student newspaper The Alligator. Notably, the University of Virginia did not establish a journalism school, but The Cavalier Daily did begin accepting financial subsidies from the school in the form of administration-controlled student fees. Thus, collegiate journalism that originated as a largely autonomous undertaking in the mid-to-late 19th century became an activity undertaken with heavy input from university administrations and journalism schools in the early-to-mid 20th century. This growing university involvement in student journalism set the stage for conflicts about editorial freedom and organizational leadership that were to follow. Revolution: 1950-1980 Whereas university administrations and journalism schools expanded their influence upon student newspapers during the early 20th century, the post-World War II period featured a movement in the opposite direction. During this time, numerous student newspapers fought with university administrators and regents in an attempt to secure additional editorial freedom for themselves. Student newspapers sought greater autonomy so they could investigate and often criticize the conservative stances that university administrations tended  

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One to hold regarding topics such as civil rights, the Vietnam War, and university budgetary practices. Student newspapers’ revolutionary movement was consistent with the antiauthority sentiments that characterized much of the United States, and especially higher education, during the period. There were mixed results from student newspaper revolutions between 1950 and

28

1980. Although many student newspapers succeeded in gaining at least partial independence from their universities, their movement toward autonomy set the stage for some of the financial and internal struggles they would face during the early 21st century. Moreover, student media’s revolution was not a universal phenomenon. The majority of student newspapers remained attached to their university administrations in some way, either as recipients of funding or as journalism school constituents. The Daily Texan In the case of The Daily Texan, its revolt against the University of Texas administration began in the 1950s with Editor-in-Chief Willie Morris. The Mississippi native served as editor-in-chief during the 1955-1956 academic year and railed against administrators and regents for their resistance to complete racial integration at the university, as well as their close connections with the state’s oil and gas interests. Because appointments to the University of Texas Board of Regents were often given to major donors in the state’s gubernatorial elections — a practice that was and remains popular in many states to this day — regents during the 1950s were aligned with the political interests of Gov. Allan Shivers, a major supporter of the oil and natural gas industry.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One Morris editorialized strongly against the Fulbright-Harris Natural Gas Bill, which would have relaxed federal regulation of oil and natural gas production. The Shiversappointed regents were dismayed with Morris’ stance and began a campaign to reign in the Texan’s editorial content. “We feel The Daily Texan is going out of bounds to discuss the Fulbright-Harris gas bill when 66 percent of Texas tax money comes from oil and gas,” Regent Claude Voyles said in a February 7, 1956 interview.12

29

Morris was called into the office of University of Texas President Logan Wilson for a series of meetings about his editorials. The Board of Regents also imposed several policies meant to control the paper’s content: They shifted the editorial deadline from 5:30 p.m. to 9 a.m., attempted to require TSP board approval of any controversial editorial, and allowed a journalism professor to remain with the Texan staff each night and block publication of editorials that needed TSP approval. The standoff reached a climax when the Board of Regents announced its intention to prohibit the Texan from writing about any political matters of state or national concern. “This was based, they said, not on principle but on legal considerations,” Morris wrote in his memoir North Toward Home. “They cited the rider on state appropriations bills, which stipulated that no state money ‘shall be used for influencing the outcome of any election or the passage or defeat of any legislative measure.’ Then they advanced one step further, a major step as it turned out, and announced that ‘editorial preoccupation with state and national political controversy’ would be prohibited.”13 In other words, as long as the Texan continued to receive money from the university — which, in turn, was funded by the state — the publication could not editorialize about political matters.                                                                                                                
12 13

Copp and Rogers, The Daily Texan, 71. Willie Morris, North Toward Home (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967), 188.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

30

Morris did not capitulate to the Board, however. “We submitted critical editorials the next day, attacking the implications of the Regents’ order, along with a guest editorial from The New York Times on the natural gas legislation and several paragraphs from Thomas Jefferson on press freedom,” he wrote.14 When these were all blocked from publication, Morris was able to gloat that the Regents were afraid even to publish the words of the nation’s most renowned newspaper and one of its most venerated founding fathers. The Texan then began challenging the constitutionality of the Board of Regents’ interpretation of the appropriations law, and Morris resorted to running blank space and editorials with mocking titles such as “Let’s Water the Pansies,” “School Spirit,” and “Keep Off the Grass.”15 The Regents eventually relaxed their censorship policies, but Morris nonetheless worried that “in winning the battle we had lost the war.”16 Morris had good reason to fret, as the Texan’s war for editorial independence was only beginning. Upon Morris’ graduation, the Regents amended the TSP charter to strip the student editors of the Texan, Cactus, and Ranger of their status as voting members of the TSP Board. This meant the new board would comprise the Students’ Association president, four Student Assembly members, and four faculty members. In addition, the Regents assigned a new faculty-led “executive committee” to replace a student-led committee as the authority responsible for setting the salaries of the managing editor and TSP business manager. Finally, the Regents stipulated that the executive committee would also establish

                                                                                                               
14 15 16

Morris, North Toward Home, 189. Copp and Rogers, The Daily Texan, 72. Morris, North Toward Home, 191.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

31

the salary and responsibilities of the TSP “editorial manager,” a censorial position that was a holdover from an earlier era.17 Texan Editor-in-Chief Mike Godwin assessed these changes in a 1987 article for TSP’s UTmost magazine: Former TSP General Manager Lloyd Edmonds, who retired in 1982, was hired by TSP in 1956 just as the regents were imposing these changes. According to Edmonds, the ostensible purpose of the editorial manager was “to prevent libel, misstatements, poor journalism.” But it was common knowledge, says Edmonds, that the changes were “because of Willie Morris,” and that the problem with Morris’s editorials was not that they were unprofessional, but that “they were more or less political.” Similarly the change in the Board’s composition ostensibly was to make TSP’s structure conform to that of other student publication boards around the country, but the real justification was to diminish the voice of student editors in censorship and other policy decisions.18 Thus, the Regents succeeded in wrestling a degree of control over the Texan away from its student staff despite Morris’ efforts to uphold the paper’s independence. The Regents almost did so again in 1962, when they announced that the Texan editorship would no longer be elected by the student body but rather appointed by TSP. Following this decision, the Texan published a full-page editorial in protest. “By making The Texan editorship an appointed rather than elected position,” Editor-in-Chief Hoyt Purvis wrote, “the Board of Regents took a strong step toward silencing the major voice of free expression on the campus, and certainly denied students the right to retain a voice in the selection of editors.”19 The Student Assembly and the student body as a whole both voted in favor of an elected rather than appointed editor. Eventually, even the TSP Special Committee                                                                                                                
17 18 19

Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.” Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.”

Hoyt Purvis, “Editorial,” The Daily Texan, February 4, 1962, quoted in Copp and Rogers, The Daily Texan, 81.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One for Selection of the Texan Editor joined the ranks of those calling for a return to the system of an elected editor. They formally petitioned the Regents for a policy change, which the Regents then reluctantly granted. Although this proved to be a positive outcome for the Texan, it also demonstrated the potential perils of antagonizing regents and administrators with negative editorial content. Yet the Texan’s greatest enemy would not emerge until after Morris’ tenure and the

32

debate about editorship selection. His name was Frank Erwin, Jr., and he served on the Board of Regents from 1963 until 1975 and as chairman from 1966 through 1971. “Erwin was disturbed that the Texan, with its liberal editorial slant, was representing the University to the senators and representatives [of Texas],” Godwin wrote. “He was equally disturbed that the now-immense assets (estimated by some to be as much as $600,000) that had accumulated during TSP’s existence were not being used to advance the position and power of The University of Texas.”20 Therefore, Erwin tightened the Regents’ grip on TSP. According to Godwin, “He passed a regental resolution that eliminated free distribution of the Texan [to state legislators], made every aspect of TSP’s financial operations (no matter how minute) subject to regental control, and rendered TSP powerless to take any action whatsoever without approval by the regents.”21 The Texan remained determined to act independently, however, and the paper struck a significant blow against Erwin in 1971. The Texan discovered severe cost overruns and a lack of state-mandated competitive bidding for a construction project involving the mansion of University of Texas Chancellor Charles LeMaistre. The paper’s investigation of what                                                                                                                
20 21

Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.” Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One became known as the “Bauer House Controversy” revealed that perhaps as much as $1 million was spent to demolish and rebuild the old mansion, which was worth $225,000 and

33

was due for only a remodeling. Because the origin of the spent funds was unclear and Erwin denied the Texan’s Freedom of Information Act request, the state legislature launched an ethics investigation to determine if the Regents had misappropriated taxpayer money. Eventually, the scandal became so embarrassing for Erwin that he stepped down as chairman of the Regents on March 12, 1971. By breaking the news of the Bauer House Controversy, the Texan demonstrated that the rebellious and enterprising sprit of the Willie Morris era had not disappeared. The paper’s final stand against Erwin, however, took place in July 1971 when the TSP charter was set to expire. According to the original terms of the TSP charter, the corporation’s assets would revert to the Board of Regents if the charter were allowed to expire and the corporation dissolved. Therefore, Erwin — who remained on the Board even after stepping down as chairman — and the rest of the Regents moved slowly in negotiations with the TSP about a charter renewal. The Regents also demanded major concessions from the TSP in exchange for a renewal of its charter, and they put forward a proposal “to shift control of TSP from students representing the whole student body to students selected from the journalism school” and to “make the Texan editorship appointive rather than elective.”22 Each change was meant to enhance the university administration’s control over who served in the Texan’s leadership. No agreement was reached before July, so the TSP Board voted to approve a sevenmonth extension of its own charter. This was a legal maneuver pursuant to the Texas Non                                                                                                                
22

Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

34

Profit Corporation Act, which was passed during the 1960s and allowed non-profit boards of directors to amend their own charters. Yet this merely escalated the conflict, as the Regents quickly instructed the state attorney general to sue TSP for recovery of its assets. TSP filed a countersuit, and suddenly it appeared the fate of the Texan would be decided in court. Even though TSP acted in accordance with the Non-Profit Corporation Act when extending its own charter, a ruling in its favor still would have left the organization vulnerable. “Erwin had sworn that if TSP managed to survive the regents’ legal assault, he’d see that it was forced to move off campus,” Godwin wrote.23 This likely would have devastated the Texan’s ability to attract staff and readers. Thus, TSP members and administration officials continued negotiating behind the scenes to achieve an amicable resolution to the controversy. The compromise they eventually achieved was known as the “Declaration of Trust,” which guaranteed the Texan a measure of autonomy but fell far short of providing complete independence. The most important victory for the Texan was the guarantee that its editorship would remain an elected position. The agreement also stipulated that a majority of the TSP Board would be students. As the Regents desired, however, students and faculty from the journalism school were required to fill most of the board positions. This later caused tension between the TSP and the Texan when board members from the journalism school rejected the candidacy of several students attempting to run for editor and managing editor because they had not taken certain journalism courses. Texan staff viewed this as a power grab and an attempt to transform the newspaper into a servant of the journalism school rather than the student body at large.24 Even more important than the                                                                                                                
23 24

Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.” Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One TSP’s new board composition, however, was its changed financial circumstances. The Declaration of Trust transferred all TSP assets to the Regents, thereby establishing TSP “as an auxiliary enterprise of the university, falling under the umbrella of student affairs.”25

35

At least publicly, Erwin considered the agreement a triumph. “I certainly congratulate Regents Chairman John Peace and Regents Attorney Preston Shirley on successfully achieving all of the Regents’ goals without the necessity of a trial of the pending litigation,” he said. “The publishing board will now operate under the Regents’ Rules and Regulations and the TSP assets will be owned and controlled by the Board of Regents.”26 After two decades of struggle, the Texan had managed to secure one of its most cherished traditions — the election of a student editor — but had to sacrifice complete independence from its university administration. The Cavalier Daily A similar set of controversies played out at the University of Virginia during the 1970s. An enterprising student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, created public embarrassment for an administrator, who subsequently retaliated by asserting greater control over the paper’s content. In this case, however, the newspaper achieved a victory that put it on the path to complete independence. First, The Cavalier Daily had to overcome a revolution within its own ranks. The editor-in-chief during the 1972-73 term, Steve Wells, caused controversy when he began insisting the organization publish six-page papers, rather than the traditional four-page                                                                                                                
25

Texas Student Media, “TSM History,” Texas Student Media, http://www.utexas.edu/tsm/about/ (accessed March 29, 2013).
26

Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One editions. He also scaled up production from four days per week to five days per week. As Wells tells it, these changes were unpopular among a large segment of the staff. “Many

36

people didn’t want to have to put out a Monday issue because they were partying [during the weekend],” he said.27 Wells also sought to move the newspaper away from its traditionally cozy relationship with the Kappa Sigma fraternity. He believed the newspaper should offer tougher coverage of the Greek system and other student groups, rather than shying away from conflict because of staff members’ connections to those organizations. Wells’ reforms had the effect of making the newspaper a fulltime commitment for students, rather than a part-time responsibility that could be fulfilled alongside membership in other organizations. He characterized the change as a movement in the direction of the hard-hitting journalism that was becoming popular nationwide in the wake of the Watergate Scandal. “One [mentality] was looking at [The Cavalier Daily] as a nice resume builder, and the other was doing it out of passion,” Wells said.28 At The Cavalier Daily’s 1973 staff elections, Wells’ vision went head-to-head with that of Cavalier Daily traditionalists who believed involvement in the newspaper should not preclude participation in other groups around Grounds. The election was notable for another reason, as Ann Brown became the first woman ever to run for editor-in-chief. Her candidacy came only three years after the University itself began admitting female students. According to multiple published accounts from the Cavalier Daily Alumni Association (CDAA), however, Brown was also the latest in the long-running tradition of managing board

                                                                                                               
27 28

Steve Wells, interview by author, Charlottesville, VA, January 29, 2013. Steve Wells, interview by author.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One candidates with Greek ties.29 She ran against a former projects editor named Tim Wheeler, who sought to carry on Wells’ reformist legacy. Although Brown was the first woman to run for Cavalier Daily editor-in-chief, the

37

1973 election was not about women serving in the newspaper’s leadership so much as it was about the future of the newspaper’s membership. “No one contends that Wheeler’s victory was gender related,” CDAA member Dave Bodamer wrote in a 2000 article about women at the newspaper. “In fact, as evidence of how quickly women were integrated into the University, Brown was seen as the old-guard, Kappa Sigma candidate.”30 Even Brown agrees with this assessment. “[The election] had less to do with gender than it did with a sea change in attitude in who wanted to work for the paper,” she said.31 Her vision for The Cavalier Daily was to restore the longstanding tradition of including students who viewed the newspaper as a part-time obligation. Wheeler sought to preserve the reforms that had made the newspaper a full-time organization whose members were not involved in other groups. If Wheeler’s vision prevailed, it would mean staff members would have fewer conflicts of interest and would be able to produce more critical coverage of student organizations. Despite Brown’s Greek connections and her stature within the paper as a former news editor, Wheeler garnered the support of the managing board and eventually much of the staff. Brown lost the election to Wheeler, thereby cementing The Cavalier Daily’s transformation into an organization whose members were wholly committed to journalism. “The CD went                                                                                                                
29

Nicola M. White, “Few women reach the top at The Cavalier Daily,” College Topics, Fall 2008, http://www3.alumni.virginia.edu/reunions/women/article4.pdf (accessed March 29, 2013); David Bodamer, “Reporters, Ads Reps, MB Members: First Coeds Take On the CD,” College Topics, April 2000, http://hoosonline.virginia.edu/atf/cf/%7BAE65F582-11C7-4445-BEE3-DCF1A0505D61%7D/CT-4-00.PDF (accessed March 28, 2013).
30 31

Bodamer, “First Coeds Take On the CD.” Bodamer, “First Coeds Take On the CD.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One from being a publication produced by students who were active in many organizations and loathe to report harshly on fellow students to an organization that was seen as the ‘University’s journalism school,’ a characterization that has endured,” Bodamer wrote.32 After the election, Brown resigned from the paper along with a contingent of other

38

editors to form a rival to The Cavalier Daily. Known as The Declaration, it began publishing once a week in 1973 and quickly came to fill the role of the University’s alternative weekly. The Declaration “was supposed to be informative and irreverent,”33 according to Bodamer, and University Professor Paul Gaston described the publication as “influential… with a leftward bent.”34 Brown said the content was “analytical” and “long-form” journalism that could be produced on more relaxed deadlines that allowed students to participate in other activities on Grounds.35 Although The Declaration has since transformed into a publication focused on arts and entertainment, it has remained resilient and continued publishing weekly until financial concerns forced it to scale back to biweekly production in January 2012.36 The Cavalier Daily withstood this internal struggle over its direction to face an even more serious challenge a few years later. In 1974, longtime University President Edgar Shannon retired and was replaced by Frank Hereford. Many students held favorable opinions of Shannon because of his public opposition to the Vietnam War and the progress he made                                                                                                                
32 33 34

Bodamer, “First Coeds Take On the CD.” Bodamer, “First Coeds Take On the CD.”

Paul M. Gaston, Coming of Age in Utopia: The Odyssey of an Idea (Montgomery: NewSouth Books, 2009) 305.
35 36

Ann Brown, interview by author, Charlottesville, VA, March, 24, 2013.

Ana Mir, “Declaration newsmagazine to print every other week,” The Cavalier Daily, January 27, 2012, http://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2012/01/declaration-newsmagazine-to-print-every-other-week/ (accessed March 28, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One toward racial integration and coeducation at the University. In addition, he was friendly toward The Cavalier Daily and made a point of meeting regularly with the paper’s editors.

39

His successor, Hereford, quickly ran into trouble with the faculty, student body, and student newspaper, however, when he refused to resign from the racially exclusive Farmington Country Club upon assuming the presidency. Shannon had resigned from the club while president, and students and faculty demanded that Hereford do the same. Hereford argued that he hoped to work from within the club to change its membership policies, but students and faculty were unappeased. Calls for Hereford’s resignation from the club grew, and at least one faculty member even resigned from the University in protest.37 The outcry against Hereford was especially prominent in The Cavalier Daily, which published numerous news stories about the controversy and wrote editorials calling for Hereford’s resignation from the club. Among the most powerful was an editorial that appeared in the November 21, 1975 edition of the paper: … The most fundamental obligation of the University president is to offer moral leadership to the faculty, students and administration of this University, and any claim to the trust of the community is contingent upon that type of example. The imperative of decision now lies with the president himself, and he cannot expect any peripheral action to alleviate him of that responsibility. For Mr. Hereford the choice should be plain: he must decide whom he will serve, the University entrusted to him, or the country club to which he belongs.38 On February 10, 1976, less than three months after the publication of that editorial, Hereford resigned from Farmington along with several other prominent members — including 11

                                                                                                               
37 38

Eston Melton and Janet Wilson, “Hereford quits Farmington,” The Cavalier Daily, February 10, 1976. Managing Board, “At Long Last,” The Cavalier Daily, November 21, 1975.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One university officials.39 The next day The Cavalier Daily managing board published an editorial stating that Hereford’s resignation was “a relief and not a victory.”40 It went on to

40

chastise the president for failing to resign sooner and urged him to take meaningful steps to improve the University’s treatment of minority students. Hereford could not call the resignation either a relief or a victory, and the embattled president quickly set about exerting greater control over the student newspaper. Among the justifications for tighter administrative control was the university’s large financial stake in The Cavalier Daily. The university had played a major part in financing the paper since at least 1956, when it established the Student Activities Committee for allocating student fee money to various organizations. At the time of the Committee’s establishment, the fee was primarily used to support The Cavalier Daily. The newspaper received a full 80 percent of the student fee money that was collected, and the remaining 20 percent of fee money was divided among other student organizations. Throughout the next two decades, the allocation of student fee money gradually changed and by 1974 The Cavalier Daily received about onesixth of the fee money collected. As a result, student fee money paid for only about 28 percent of the newspaper’s budget during the 1971-72 academic year.41 Despite this proportional decline in support from the University, the $26,000 of student fees that went to The Cavalier Daily in 1971-72 remained a substantial sum of money. Therefore, the Board of Visitors could call itself the legal publisher of The Cavalier Daily and most other student media at the University. With this in mind, Student Affairs Vice                                                                                                                
39

Melton and Wilson, “Hereford quits Farmington”; Frank Cushman and David Weekes, “Eleven University officials among club resignees,” The Cavalier Daily, February 11, 1976.
40 41

Managing Board, “Hopeful Epilogue,” The Cavalier Daily, February 11, 1976. Debbie Galant, “Underwriting Journalistic Innovation,” The Cavalier Daily, April 10, 1974.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

41

President Ernest H. Ern charged Associate Dean of Students William A. Elwood with leading a special administrative committee in producing a set of recommendations for how to improve the internal structure and governance of the University’s student media organizations. The committee carried out its work in secret, and its report was not made public until Student Council President Paul Freeman leaked a copy to The Cavalier Daily on March 22, 1976.42 Already dismayed at the committee’s surreptitious approach, members of the newspaper were even more concerned when they discovered what the report contained. The newspaper published a front-page story about the proposal, in which it outlined the committee’s central recommendations. The committee suggested reviewing the composition and selection of the Cavalier Daily board of directors, as well as the paper’s managing board. It also called for reviewing the newspaper’s summer operations and suggested exploring the possibility of a board of directors that would manage both The Cavalier Daily and The Declaration. Finally, the report encouraged the administration to establish a “media board” that would oversee all student media at the University including The Cavalier Daily.43 All together, the changes would have greatly expanded the administration’s level of oversight upon The Cavalier Daily and other student media. Even university administrators acknowledged as much. “The CD will tend to be paranoid about the report,” Elwood said after it was leaked.44 And, indeed, the paper reacted forcefully a day after publishing news of the media board proposal. In its March 24, 1976 editorial, the managing board stated, “We cannot… in good conscience, say we are pleased with the report, for it subjects The Cavalier                                                                                                                
42 43 44

Mike Fagan, “Media board proposed,” The Cavalier Daily, March 23, 1976. Fagan, “Media board proposed.” Fagan, “Media board proposed.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One Daily far more severely than in the past to the passing whims of the establishment, to what can most charitably be described as the tyranny of the majority.”45 Despite the newspaper’s objections, the University subsequently established the Media Board to oversee The Cavalier Daily and other student media organizations. The Media Board was not empowered to exercise prior restraint, but it could take three actions

42

against student media to punish them for content after the fact. The first level of sanction was a private letter of censure, second was a public letter of censure, and finally the Media Board could remove members of student media organizations’ managing boards.46 The implications of the Media Board’s creation became clear in 1978, when the oversight body took action against The Cavalier Daily for its firing of a staff member in Fall 1977. The staffer, John Davies, was also a candidate running for Student Council and a member of the Young Americans for Freedom.47 Davies alleged the newspaper had fired him because of his conservative political leanings; the Cavalier Daily leadership maintained that its membership policies prohibited staffers from participating in political or activist organizations. The Media Board answered Davies’ complaint by voting 6-4 on November 16, 1978 to send a public letter of censure to The Cavalier Daily.48 The Media Board also demanded that the newspaper publish the letter. Editors at The Cavalier Daily refused to comply with the Media Board’s demand, thereby deepening the crisis. On March 1, 1979, after several months of unsuccessfully                                                                                                                
45 46 47 48

Managing Board, “The Media Report,” The Cavalier Daily, March 24, 1976. Chuck Israel, “Media panel refers CD action to Board,” The Cavalier Daily, March 5, 1979. Michelle Hegmon, “Media Board votes to censure paper,” The Cavalier Daily, November 21, 1978. Hegmon, “Media Board votes to censure paper.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One attempting to convince the newspaper to publish the letter, the Media Board voted unanimously to submit a letter to the University’s Board of Visitors.49 The letter stated that the Media Board could take no further action against The Cavalier Daily, and the body’s chairman acknowledged that it was reluctant to remove members of the newspaper’s managing board. With its letter to the Board of Visitors, the Media Board raised the stakes in the dispute. No longer was it a controversy between the newspaper and a largely studentcomprised regulatory organization. Rather, it had become a matter involving a direct challenge to the Board of Visitors’ authority. As the body that created and empowered the Media Board, the Board of Visitors would be ceding ground to The Cavalier Daily if it

43

allowed the newspaper to defy the Media Board. If no action were taken, The Cavalier Daily would have rendered impotent one of the bodies that administered the Board of Visitors’ policies. Therefore, the final days of The Cavalier Daily’s 1978-79 term — which ended at the conclusion of March — were fraught with tension as debates played out behind the scenes about how the newspaper would be treated. Rick Neel was the editor-in-chief who came to lead the paper at the beginning of April 1979, and he recounted the circumstances surrounding the crisis in an article for the CDAA. “First, Hereford goaded [previous editor-in-chief Mike] Vitez into confirming that The Cavalier Daily was refusing to recognize the authority of the media board,” Neel wrote. “Then, Hereford went to the Board of Visitors, which happened to be meeting that week in the Rotunda and told the Visitors that the CD was operating in direct defiance of the Visitors’ authority. Hereford secured the Visitors’ blessings to remove all University support,                                                                                                                
49

Israel, “Media panel refers CD action to Board.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One including office space from the newspaper if the new Managing Board continued this defiance.”50

44

Thus, Hereford arranged a meeting with Neel and the rest of the new Cavalier Daily managing board on April 2, 1979 and issued an ultimatum: Either they would accept the Media Board’s authority by 11 a.m. the next day, or else they would lose both their office space and their status as a University Affiliated Organization. “No organization within the University can operate in defiance of the Board of Visitors,” Hereford wrote in a letter to The Cavalier Daily on the night of April 2. “Mike Vitez’s letter to me of March 26 makes it unmistakably clear that The Cavalier Daily is doing so now.”51 Hereford’s threat was so serious that the newspaper took the exceedingly rare step of publishing a story above the masthead in the April 3 edition of the paper, with the headline “Hereford threatens CD shutdown.”52 After a day of talking with lawyers, The Cavalier Daily decided to defy Hereford and accept the consequences. Therefore, the newspaper was evicted from its office in the Newcomb Hall student center on the university’s Grounds. The paper was able to relocate temporarily to the offices of The Daily Progress, the local daily newspaper serving the larger Charlottesville community, which had offered to let The Cavalier Daily use its space. The newspaper was bold enough to make the move off-Grounds in the face of Hereford’s demands, but it was aware that this could only be a temporary solution — just as the threat of                                                                                                                
50

Rick Neel, “The Demise of the Media Board and the Birth of the CDAA, 1979-83,” https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CDcQFjAB&url=ht tp%3A%2F%2Falumni.virginia.edu%2Fmultimedia%2Faig%2Fcdaa%2Fmemoirs%2Fneel.doc&ei=7S5VUejd HbO80AHx7oH4Dg&usg=AFQjCNFzJqUqf6CZNKMHCOgUhz8jo7lUeQ&sig2=ZiRYP4dIkg0B6x2aPAv5w&bvm=bv.44442042,d.dmQ (accessed March 29, 2013).
51 52

Mike Fagan, “Hereford threatens CD shutdown,” The Cavalier Daily, April 3, 1979. Fagan, “Hereford threatens CD shutdown.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

45

removal from campus hung over the negotiations for a renewed charter for The Daily Texan, so too did it cloud the picture for The Cavalier Daily as the paper sought to withstand Hereford and the Board of Visitors. The Cavalier Daily did manage to put out a paper the day after its eviction, which featured as its top headline, “CD rejects ultimatum; evicted from office.”53 Other student organizations took action as well. The newspaper reported that Student Council voted 19-6 with an abstention to “condemn” the eviction. First-Year Council also passed a resolution calling for a class boycott and urging students to rally in support of The Cavalier Daily in front of Hereford’s office. And WTJU, one of the student-run radio stations at the University, announced it would no longer recognize the Media Board’s authority. WTJU was in a similarly precarious position as The Cavalier Daily, given that the Board of Visitors controlled its broadcasting license. In announcing its decision, WTJU President Teresa Lazazzera said, “We applaud The Cavalier Daily for their action.”54 On Thursday, April 5, the newspaper’s managing board and the university’s administrators met behind the scenes to negotiate a resolution to the controversy. Meanwhile, outside Hereford’s office 1,500 studies rallied in protest at an event organized by the FirstYear Council. According to The Cavalier Daily’s coverage of the rally, students carried signs such as “Support the First Amendment,” “Free the Press,” and “Hereford get off your Angus,” making it clear that the treatment of their student newspaper was primary among

                                                                                                               
53 54

Nancy Cook, “CD rejects ultimatum; evicted from offices,” The Cavalier Daily, April 4, 1973. Seth Tandlich, “WTJU quits Media Board,” The Cavalier Daily, April 5, 1979.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One their many grievances with the administration and Board of Visitors.55 Neel described the deliberations about a resolution to the conflict in his article for the CDAA:

46

As dusk fell that evening [April 5], I walked into Pavilion VIII (then the President’s Office) and reached the accord that ended the confrontation. Present were Exec. Vice President Avery Catlin (Hereford was out of town), University Legal Advisor George Grattan, Sandy Gilliam and Bill Fishback, Director of University Relations, among others. The relief I felt on reaching the end of the confrontation was also etched on the faces of the administrators in the room. Both sides had been through an ordeal.56 In the compromise agreement, The Cavalier Daily managing board said it would recognize the Media Board’s existence and the fact that the Board of Visitors had “certain oversight responsibilities respecting University publications.”57 The newspaper could claim victory on a dispute central to the conflict, however: It extracted a concession from University counsel granting that the Media Board did not have the power to force The Cavalier Daily to print letters of censure. That assurance and the guarantee that the newspaper could challenge any Media Board actions that it felt were in violation of the First Amendment were enough to persuade The Cavalier Daily managing board to shake hands with the administration and move back on-Grounds. The resolution to the conflict also paved the way for The Cavalier Daily’s future as a truly independent entity. During the negotiations, the University’s legal advisor told Neel that the University would begin discussing the newspaper’s “ultimate independence,” including a lease for office space.58 Although it would take some time for this change to occur, it was the                                                                                                                
55 56 57 58

Michael Graham, “Students rally, protest Board,” The Cavalier Daily, April 6, 1979. Neel, “The Demise of the Media Board.” Gary Parker, “Stalemate ends; CD seeks autonomy,” The Cavalier Daily, April 6, 1979. Parker, “Stalemate ends; CD seeks autonomy.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One mutually agreed upon end-goal of a crisis that brought The Cavalier Daily to the brink of destruction. Changes Elsewhere The Daily Texan and The Cavalier Daily were just two prominent examples of student newspapers that experienced upheaval during the middle of the 20th century. The Daily Californian at the University of California, Berkeley made a move toward

47

independence that was very similar to the one undertaken by The Cavalier Daily. Berkeley’s student newspaper had been university-owned since its inception in 1871, but it ran afoul of administrators following the publication of a controversial editorial called “Take Back (People’s) Park” on May 11, 1971 in which it urged students to tear down a fence the University of California Board of Regents had erected around a park. The editorial helped prompt what became known as the “party at People’s Park,” a riot that resulted in 43 arrests. Subsequently, The Daily Californian Publisher’s Board fired the three editorial board members who voted in favor of running the editorial.59 Following the firings, the two other members of the editorial board resigned and the staff published an editorial challenging the firings. The administration did not relent, however, and instead blocked the newspaper from publishing. Therefore, The Daily Californian decided to initiate a complete break with the university and negotiated an arrangement that would allow the newspaper to become financially and editorially

                                                                                                               
59

Amruta Trivedi, “Former editors remember a history marked by controversy,” The Daily Californian, September 26, 2011, http://www.dailycal.org/2011/09/26/former-editors-remember-a-history-marked-bycontroversy/ (accessed March 29, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

48

independent. In doing so, it took the risk that The Daily Texan and The Cavalier Daily would not accept: The Daily Californian moved off campus. Meanwhile, discontent and protest within the student body led to the formation of an entirely new publication at the University of Wisconsin in Fall 1969. Known as The Badger Herald, the newspaper sprang from the minds of four students who felt the left-leaning campus needed a conservative news outlet to offer a different perspective on the social and political events happening at the time. The Badger Herald challenged the existing student publication, The Daily Cardinal, which was founded in 1892 and exhibited a stridently antiauthority editorial policy during the 1960s. The two papers have competed against one another for four decades, and the University of Wisconsin remains the only campus in the nation with two independent daily student newspapers.60 Modernity: 1981-present Controversy has persisted at student newspapers in the era since their battles for independence. Notably, there have been fewer disputes with external parties such as university administrators and boards of regents than there have been internal battles about authority and policy. This section will provide a brief overview of several such debates, as well as newspapers’ adaptation of new technology that has changed the way they publish.

                                                                                                               
60

Rogers Worthington, “Tussle Between College Papers Is Not Just Academic,” Chicago Tribune, March 19, 1987, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1987-03-19/news/8701210685_1_student-headline-city-editor (accessed March 29, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One The Daily Texan

49

The Daily Texan has endured several internal struggles since the 1980s, the first being a revolt against 1981-82 Editor-in-Chief Don Puffer. The Texan staff protested what they considered to be Puffer’s meddling in news department operations. News staff members produced a letter outlining seven specific complaints against Puffer, including allegations that he permitted the alteration of news copy and layout for editorial purposes. Eleven members of the staff subsequently sent a letter to the TSP Board’s executive committee demanding they ask for Puffer’s resignation. The 11 students threatened their own resignation if the TSP Board did not force Puffer out, and they followed through on their promise on November 3 after the TSP Board declined to take action against Puffer. Puffer and his managing editor, Paula Angerstein, resigned within a week, marking the first time in the Texan’s 80-year history that its top two editors had resigned. Puffer and Angerstein’s move triggered another round of resignations from other staff members who supported the embattled leadership. “Both sides of this dispute have been pretty vicious to each other,” TSP Board member Warren Burkett said. “A lot of people stayed because they liked The Texan, a lot of people left because they liked The Texan.”61 Controversy struck again only two years later when 1983-1984 Editor-in-Chief Roger Campbell developed a proposal with General Manager Nancy Green that would have made the Texan editorship appointed rather than elected. “Initially, Campbell had some success in arousing some enthusiasm for Green’s proposal,” Godwin wrote. “But Students’ Association President Mitch Kreindler led a successful counterattack — he presented the Board with a                                                                                                                
61

Copp and Rogers, The Daily Texan, 118-119.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One survey of former editors and former Students’ Association presidents who condemned the concept of an appointed Texan editor. Nearly all the responses stressed that the elected editorship had been one of the main factors that kept the Texan relatively free and independent.”62 Eventually, the TSP Board voted against the proposal and preserved the tradition of the elected editorship.

50

After declining to eliminate the elected editorship, however, the TSP Board passed a separate amendment to its handbook severely limiting the editor’s power. The amendment stipulated that the editor-in-chief would retain control of the editorial pages, but the Boardappointed managing editor would be responsible for content in all other sections of the newspaper. This was justified according to the Board’s notion that the editor-in-chief was elected to represent student opinion, and therefore it was only necessary for him to oversee the opinion section of the newspaper. Godwin criticized this rationale, however, with a different assessment of the elected editorship based upon his experience running for the position. “[T]he Board ignored a critical consideration — editor candidates are typically not elected on the basis of their proposed editorial stances,” he wrote. “Instead, they’re elected on their promises to increase coverage of various aspects of the University community, or to make other changes to the rest of the newspaper.”63 Without control of the news section and other literary staff, however, the editor-in-chief would be powerless to follow through on such promises. Godwin also noted that the TSP Handbook established the editor-in-chief as the person ultimately responsible for the paper’s official policy. He argued that given this                                                                                                                
62 63

Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.” Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One expectation, it was inappropriate to limit the editor-in-chief’s oversight role to the opinion

51

section. It was the TSP Handbook that was brought into line with the editor-in-chief’s revised role, however, rather than the opposite. The organization’s handbook today makes no mention of the editor-in-chief serving as a policymaker for the Texan; rather, it stipulates that it is the TSP Board’s responsibility to “set policies” for the newspaper.64 Even though the editor-in-chief’s role was circumscribed following the 1983 reforms, there have been additional challenges to the position being elected. Most recently, the TSM Board65 voted in 2005 to move toward appointing rather than electing the Daily Texan editorin-chief.66 According to then-TSM Director Kathy Lawrence, elections for the editorship create “an opportunity for candidates to go campaign before student organizations and interest groups and seek their favor. When you have a student editor going out to do that, that doesn’t speak well toward being an objective observer of the news. Some editors wind up making election promises they’re not able to fulfill, or people who agreed to support them feel that they’ve been let down.”67 The editor-in-chief at the time, Ben Heath, corroborated Lawrence’s account. “How you win campaigns is by telling people you’re going to cover their organization,” he said. He added that the students who turn out to vote are “dominated by special interests.”68

                                                                                                               
64 65 66

Texas Student Media, Handbook (Austin: January 22, 2007), 2-2. The TSP elected to change its name to Texas Student Media (TSM) in 2002.

Doug Lederman, “The End of Newsroom Democracy,” Inside Higher Ed, March 16, 2005, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/03/16/texan3_16 (accessed March 29, 2013).
67 68

Lederman, “The End of Newsroom Democracy.” Lederman, “The End of Newsroom Democracy.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One Lawrence outlined one additional drawback to the Texan’s leadership hierarchy: competition between the editor-in-chief and the managing editor. Although the former is technically highest on the organizational chart — at least among editors — the latter has more actual authority to control content and implement policy. This can lead to conflict between the two leaders if disagreements arise. “We’ve had some years where the two of them have worked well together,” Lawrence said. “But there’s always this strange question of ‘Who’s really the boss?’”69 Godwin quoted 1987-88 Editor-in-Chief Sean Price as describing the same problem. “There’s always the undercurrent that the managing editor might try to pull rank sometime,” he said. “That’s not paranoia on my part — it’s just a recognition of the power the ME has over the majority of the newspaper.”70 Godwin and others, however, argued forcefully against Lawrence and the TSM Board’s proposal to transform the elected editorship to being appointed. In fact, former editors of the Texan flew to Austin and spoke at a meeting of the TSM Board. The editors presented their arguments against the change, including their assertion that the Texan was

52

legally required to have an elected editor. They cited the 1971 “Declaration of Trust,” which stipulated the Texan would continue electing its editor in exchange for TSM turning over its assets to the University. Godwin and others pointed out that should the editorship become appointed, the entire agreement could be rendered void. Supporters of the elected editorship also noted that one reason for increasing partisanship among editors was that the TSM Board was more frequently waiving the requirements for editor-in-chief candidates. This meant that

                                                                                                               
69 70

Lederman, “The End of Newsroom Democracy.” Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One individuals with weaker connections to the Texan and stronger ties to outside groups could qualify for the ballot and even be elected to the Texan editorship. Following the outcry from Godwin and others, the TSM Board voted to reverse its original decision on eliminating the elected editorship. “In light of legal questions,” Lawrence said, “it would not be prudent to act now.”71 Since 2005, there have been no serious challenges to the elected Texan editorship. The Red & Black

53

The Red & Black recently experienced a tumultuous internal conflict similar to what struck the Texan in 1981. Whereas the Texan’s staff revolt occurred against a student editorin-chief, however, The Red & Black’s turmoil pitted student editors against professional staff and board members. The roots of the conflict stemmed from the 1980 establishment of The Red and Black Publishing Company, Inc. as a non-profit entity separate from the University of Georgia. The Red and Black, Inc.’s organizational structure attempted to balance nonstudent and student influence, but in practice the former far outweighed the latter. The Red and Black, Inc. bylaws stipulate that students should be among the membership of the corporation’s board of directors. “Two of the ex-officio members shall be the current student editor and student advertising manager of The Red & Black, and shall be active students of the University of Georgia,” reads Article II, Section 2.3c.72 The Red and                                                                                                                
71

Doug Lederman, “Reversal at ‘Daily Texan,’” Inside Higher Ed, May 3, 2005, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/05/03/Texan (accessed March 30, 2013).
72

Katheryn Hayes Tucker, “Red & Black board falls short of student member rule,” Daily Report, August 30, 2012, http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleDRO.jsp?id=1202569554390&Red__Black_board_falls_short_of _student_member_rule&slreturn=20130125115459 (accessed February 9, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

54

Black, Inc. strayed from its bylaws, however, and began appointing all-professional boards. This led to a situation in 2011 when the newspaper’s student editors resigned in protest of what they considered overbearing professional control of the organization. Specifically, the all-professional board’s hiring of additional non-student staff and the promotion of The Red & Black’s editorial advisor to the position of “editorial director” precipitated the crisis. The changes meant there would be an unprecedented level of professional control over The Red & Black’s content. Editor-in-Chief Polina Marinova led a large group of student editors who walked out in protest and temporarily established an alternative publication known as Red & Dead that published online for about a week until the crisis was resolved.73 The dispute is described in more detail later in this thesis, but it resulted in the student editors returning to The Red & Black and the organization’s board of directors pledging to adhere to its bylaws’ requirement that students serve on the board. The Cavalier Daily The Cavalier Daily has also seen its share of controversy, both internal and external, in recent years. For example, a crisis that began in 2006 as a dispute about the proper limits of freedom of expression at the newspaper ultimately turned into an internal clash that pitted student staff against their student board. The trigger for the conflict was the newspaper’s publication of several comics that its readership deemed offensive. The first two controversial comics were published in fall 2006 and were titled “Christ on a Cartesian

                                                                                                               
73

The former staff of The Red & Black, “Red and Dead,” http://redanddead.com/ (accessed March 30, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One Coordinate Plane” and “A Nativity Ob-scene.”74 The former featured a graphical grid

55

superimposed upon a drawing of the crucifixion of Jesus; the latter was a drawing of Joseph and the Virgin Mary discussing a rash on Mary’s body. “I swear,” Mary says in the comic, “it was immaculately transmitted!”75 Christians both in Charlottesville and around the country considered these comics insensitive. The University of Virginia spokesperson told The Washington Post that the university had received more than 2,000 letters and roughly 50 phone calls about the comics.76 “If they were putting out a comic that was challenging and intriguing and funny and cutting edge, that’s one thing,” said Kevin Simowitz, chairman of Catholic Student Ministries at the university. “When it’s tasteless and not useful, and doesn’t spark debate, and just offends… they deserve all the flak they get.”77 Even Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly opined about the comics on his nationally broadcast television program, where he called for the University to take action against The Cavalier Daily. “Thomas Jefferson would’ve thrown this newspaper off campus so fast,” he said.78 Later in the segment he added, “This is disgusting, people should write and call [then-university President] John Casteen’s office at UVa., and the alumni of the University of Virginia should not give any

                                                                                                               
74

Susan Kinzie, “Christian-Themed Cartoons Draw Ire,” The Washington Post, September 14, 2006, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/13/AR2006091301907.html (accessed March 30, 2013).
75 76 77 78

Kinzie, “Christian-Themed Cartoons Draw Ire.” Kinzie, “Christian-Themed Cartoons Draw Ire.” Kinzie, “Christian-Themed Cartoons Draw Ire.”

Bill O’Reilly, “O’Reilly & the Cavalier Daily,” YouTube video, 3:30, posted by “cavblog,” October 9, 2006, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKeLLCaFjvc.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One more money to the school until this paper is forced off campus.”79 Cavalier Daily editors offered a tepid defense of the decision to publish the comic before eventually removing it

56

from the organization’s website. “[W]e regret being thrust into the culture war in this way…. Just because a comic appears in our pages does not mean that the editors agree with the point or even find it in good taste,” read an editorial the managing board wrote about the issue. “It only means that the comic fails to meet specific criteria that warrant censorship.”80 Matters were made worse the following year when the same cartoonist, Grant Woolard, produced a comic called “Ethiopian Food Fight.” This comic depicted nine emaciated black figures dressed in rags fighting with objects including a tree branch, pillow, chair, boot and stool. The comic’s exact meaning remains unclear — it might have been mocking the fact that the famished Ethiopians had no food and therefore had to use inedible objects in their “food” fight, or it could have been taunting the Ethiopians’ lack of advanced weapons to use in a true fight over scarce food. Woolard, in his own defense, asserted the comic was meant to raise awareness rather than poke fun. “"I was not trying to trivialize famine," he said. "When you have a food fight, you fight with food. This cartoon brings you to the realization that there's a famine… and in general, people give very little thought to starving people in other countries. But I will admit that I really lacked the foresight in anticipating the reaction. I should have thought that they were going to think I was portraying Africans as savage and misshapen."81                                                                                                                
79

Bill O’Reilly, “O’Reilly & the Cavalier Daily,” YouTube video, 4:18, posted by “cavblog,” October 9, 2006, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKeLLCaFjvc.
80 81

Kinzie, “Christian-Themed Cartoons Draw Ire.” Ian Shapira, “Cartoonist Forced Out Over Image of African Famine,” The Washington Post, September 12, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/11/AR2007091102087.html (accessed March 30, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One

57

University students and others inside and outside of Charlottesville roundly criticized the comic as racist and insensitive toward famine-stricken Ethiopia. Almost 200 students led by the university’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People marched to the Cavalier Daily office, where they protested and demanded Woolard’s firing or resignation.82 In response, the Cavalier Daily managing board met and fired Woolard. Editor-in-Chief Herb Ladley, however, also admitted that he and another member of the managing board had approved the comic. “This one came in late at night, after 12:30, and my initial reaction was, ‘This is offensive,’” he said. “But we print a lot of offensive things. The instant the public raised a question about it, we realized it was a mistake.”83 The decision to fire Woolard set off further protests from both within and outside the staff. The Catholic League wrote on its website that the Managing Board decision represented a “double standard” since editors had not fired Woolard for the comics that were offensive toward Christians.84 “It is telling that the management of the Cavalier Daily is sensitive to the concerns of blacks and gays at the University of Virginia, but not to the concerns of Christians,” the organization wrote. “It seems that while racism and gay-bashing are treated seriously on the campus, religious bigotry is not seen as such a problem.”85 Meanwhile, some staff members and individuals within the university community called for the Cavalier Daily managing board to resign because they had approved Woolard’s                                                                                                                
82

Brian McNeill, “4 Cavalier Daily cartoonists resign,” The Daily Progress, September 23, 2007, http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/article_311655c3-4673-52a5-a12d-118cf60d0d6b.html (accessed March 30, 2013).
83 84

Shapira, “Cartoonist Forced Out Over Image of African Famine.”

Catholic League, “UVA’s Double Standard,” Catalyst Online, October 29, 2007, http://www.catholicleague.org/uvas-double-standard/ (accessed March 30, 2013).
85

Catholic League, “UVA’s Double Standard.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One comics for publication. The newspaper’s entire staff of comic artists went on strike for a

58

week after Woolard was ousted, protesting what they considered the managing board’s lack of accountability. After the managing board declined to reverse its firing of Woolard, four comics artists resigned from the paper permanently. “We were disappointed and pretty frustrated with the way [Woolard] was treated,” said Ellisha Marongelli, one of the artists who resigned. Even those artists who remained voiced displeasure with the newspaper’s leadership.86 “It was definitely wrong to fire Grant and to not have any of the editors affected,” said Thomas Lynch, a first-year comics artist. "But I'm personally not invested enough to make a statement by resigning. I just want to keep doing my comic strip.”87 The managing board members remained in place and hired new comics artists, but they continued to be objects of scorn among the public. The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression granted the managing board the dubious distinction of being a recipient of a “Muzzle Award” in 2008 for their firing of Woolard.88 The Cavalier Daily next encountered serious controversy in Fall 2011, when it became entangled in a conflict with the two student judiciary bodies at the University of Virginia. The organization’s managing board published an editorial on September 12, 2011 in which it outlined the steps it had taken to address instances of plagiarism at the newspaper. In addition to dismissing the writer involved, the managing board noted that it had reported the individual to the university’s student-run Honor Committee. The managing board deemed this action necessary and appropriate because the Honor Committee has jurisdiction upon all                                                                                                                
86 87 88

McNeill, “4 Cavalier Daily cartoonists resign.” McNeill, “4 Cavalier Daily cartoonists resign.”

“Jefferson Muzzles,” The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, 2008, http://www.tjcenter.org/muzzles/muzzle-archive-2008/#item06 (accessed March 30, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One suspected incidents of lying, cheating, and stealing that meet a threshold of significance at the university. The Honor Committee, however, has a confidentiality policy included within its bylaws that bind Committee members and other participants in the honor system to uphold

59

the confidentiality of individuals accused of violating the honor code. Specifically, the bylaw in question reads: The Honor Committee aspires to maintain confidentiality throughout all of its proceedings. An investigated, accused, or dismissed student may waive his or her right to confidentiality at any time, however, either by signing a written waiver for that purpose or by him-or herself making (or causing to be made) public disclosure of matters that would otherwise be held to be confidential. Only upon the giving of such waiver are other participants in any Honor proceeding released from their responsibility to maintain confidentiality with respect to that student. Questions as to confidentiality and/or the status of a waiver should be directed to the Honor Committee. The Honor Committee will enforce confidentiality through the University Standards of Conduct, administered by the University Judiciary Committee.89 Thus, the managing board members believed they were in compliance with the bylaw because they withheld publication of the accused student’s name and other personally identifiable information. Honor Committee Chair Ann Marie McKenzie filed charges against the five members of the managing board, however, alleging they had breached the confidentiality of the honor proceedings by referencing them in the editorial. As stipulated in the Honor Committee bylaws, the charges against the five managing board members went before the University Judiciary Committee (UJC). This posed a challenge to the newspaper’s leadership and staff. Although the UJC, like the Honor Committee, allows accused students to waive their confidentiality in most cases, they do not grant accused students this right in cases involving a breach of confidentiality in the honor                                                                                                                
89

UVa. Honor Committee, “Honor Committee By-Laws — After March 1, 2012,” http://www.virginia.edu/honor/honor-committee-by-laws-after-march-1-2012/#V (accessed March 30, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One system. Therefore, the accused members of the managing board were prohibited from publicly discussing their case. At the same time, the case was undeniably newsworthy as it

60

involved three of the most prominent student organizations at the university. This meant that in order to uphold its obligation to publicize important university news, the managing board would have to violate the UJC’s confidentiality policy and possibly bring upon themselves additional charges. There was another wrinkle to the case, as well. The UJC’s own constitution established that the body did not have the authority to hear the case against the managing board members. Article II, Section D, Clause 4 of the UJC constitution reads, “The Judiciary Committee shall not have jurisdiction over: the exercise of journalistic and editorial functions by student groups.”90 The managing board appealed to the UJC to drop the case, citing this clause as evidence that the body could not hear a case stemming from the exercise of The Cavalier Daily’s “editorial functions.” The UJC leadership denied the appeal, however. “The fact that the alleged disclosures occurred in a newspaper does not necessarily absolve the individual students of their duties to uphold any binding Honor Committee policies,” the UJC leadership wrote.91 Despite the UJC’s interpretation of the clause, the managing board went ahead with publication of a front-page news story about the charges.92 This led to follow-up stories in outlets such as the local alternative weekly The Hook, as well as national websites and even                                                                                                                
90

UVa. Judiciary Committee, “UJC Constitution,” http://www.student.virginia.edu/ujc/ujc_constitution.php (accessed March 30, 2013).
91

Mike Lang, “McKenzie drops four UJC charges,” The Cavalier Daily, September 27, 2011, http://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2011/09/mckenzie-drops-four-ujc-charges/ (accessed March 30, 2013).
92

Mike Lang, “Cavalier Daily faces UJC charges,” The Cavalier Daily, September 22, 2011, http://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2011/09/cavalier-daily-faces-ujc-charges (accessed March 30, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One The Washington Post.93 Before the trial could occur, however, McKenzie dropped the charges against four members of the managing board without explanation.94 The charges against Editor-in-Chief Jason Ally remained, however, and he went to trial on October 18. The trial panel of UJC members then refused to come to a verdict, ruling that they did not

61

have jurisdiction over the case. This was a measure of vindication for The Cavalier Daily, as it validated the managing board’s original argument that the UJC could not hear a case against a student publication exercising its editorial functions. The fact that this decision only came once the trial had actually taken place, however, meant the paper would remain in an uncertain position vis-à-vis the UJC. Because the judicial body does not operate on precedent, future trial panels could rule differently if the situation were to arise again. In addition, the lack of resolution about the alleged breach of confidentiality means The Cavalier Daily also remains in a precarious position should it have to deal with future instances of plagiarism on staff. In an attempt to prevent future conflict, the Cavalier Daily staff passed an amendment to its constitution in November 2011 stipulating that any individual who submits content to the organization for publication “waives the right to confidentiality in Honor Committee proceedings for any violations that occur through the production of the article.”95 This provision is meant to shield future managing boards from UJC charges should they have to                                                                                                                
93

Lisa Provence, “Confidentiality or censorship? Cav Daily slapped with conduct charges,” The Hook, September 26, 2011, http://www.readthehook.com/100993/confidential-or-censored-conduct-charges-filedagainst-cav-daily (accessed March 30, 2013); Daniel de Vise, “How U-Va. newspaper editors who alleged plagiarism wound up in the hot seat, too,” The Washington Post, October 19, 2011, http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-10-19/local/35279245_1_honor-committee-editors-plagiarism (accessed March 30, 2013).
94 95

Lang, “McKenzie drops four UJC charges.” Article X, Cavalier Daily Constitution, 2012-2013.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter One publish editorials acknowledging plagiarism and explaining that honor proceedings have

62

been initiated to hold the responsible party accountable. The organization has not been faced with this situation since 2011, however, so it remains to be seen whether the Honor Committee or UJC will recognize the constitutional amendment.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two

63  

Chapter Two The Organizational Structures of Student Newspapers
As the preceding chapter shows, numerous student newspapers experienced conflict and crisis in the mid-20th century that shaped them into the entities they are today. Whereas most student newspapers had strong ties to their university administrations or journalism schools during the pre-World War II era, some student newspapers at large public universities moved toward autonomy in the post-war period. Not all student media, however, emerged from this movement with the same internal structure. Rather, different levels of professional, faculty, and administrative involvement came to characterize the student newspapers at large public universities. These various organizational structures have influenced how student newspapers maintain financial stability, editorial independence, and staff training capabilities. The following chapter will study the specific organizational structures of four prominent student newspapers at large public universities: The Daily Texan at the University of Texas, Austin, The Red & Black at the University of Georgia, The Columbia Missourian at the University of Missouri, and The Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia. The chapter will also analyze each organization’s effectiveness at fulfilling the dual mission of student media, which is to provide informative content to university audiences and prepare staff members to succeed as the next generation of journalists. The Daily Texan Texas Student Media, Inc. (TSM) is the entity that operates The Daily Texan and four other student media properties at the University of Texas: the Cactus yearbook, KVRX 91.7  

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two radio, the TSTV television station, and the Texas Travesty humor magazine. TSM is the successor to Texas Student Publications (TSP), which was renamed in 2002 after it had begun operating a radio station, website and television station in addition to its traditional newspaper, magazine and yearbook offerings.1 TSM is an auxiliary enterprise of the University of Texas, meaning the University of Texas Board of Regents owns the organization’s assets. This arrangement is pursuant to the revised charter that TSP signed with the university in 1971 upon the expiration of its original charter. Although the Board of Regents owns the TSM assets, it is the TSM Board of Operating Trustees that manages the organization’s day-to-day affairs. According to the Declaration of Trust, it is the Board of Operating Trustees’ responsibility to:

64  

(1) operate and control the Student Media, Trust Assets, Media Contracts and Media Assets for the benefit of the University community; (2) publish, broadcast, distribute, disseminate or otherwise communicate the Student Media to the University community and (3) establish and maintain controls and procedures that are reasonably designed to ensure that the activities of the Student media are operated in a manner consistent with the Public Purpose and Applicable Laws.2
 

The Declaration of Trust also lays out the composition of the TSM Board. The Board has 11 voting members who serve two-year, staggered terms: three undergraduate students elected from the College of Communication, three at-large students elected from the student body, two faculty members from the College of Communication, one faculty member from the School of Business, and two media professionals. The university president appoints the faculty and professional members of the TSM Board. The Board also includes the Director and the student managers of TSM’s constituent groups, as well as the President of the                                                                                                                
1

Texas Student Media, “TSM History,” Texas Student Media, http://www.utexas.edu/tsm/about/ (accessed March 29, 2013).
2

Texas Student Media, Handbook (Austin: January 22, 2007), 3.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two Student Government and the Dean of Students, as non-voting members. Thus, the TSM

65  

Board has majority student representation, but its voting membership no longer includes any student leaders of its constituent publications and media outlets. Prior to the 1950s, the student editors of the Texan, Cactus, and Ranger served ex officio as voting members of the TSM (then, TSP) Board. Serving under the TSM Board are student members of the constituent organizations. According to the TSM Handbook, it is the TSM Board’s responsibility to appoint the managers of each media organization except for The Daily Texan, whose editor-in-chief is elected by the student body. The Daily Texan’s elected editorship is an important distinction from other student media at the University of Texas and other U.S. colleges and universities. Although other student newspapers featured elected editorships in the past, no other presentday student newspaper in the nation is known to choose its editor through student-wide elections like The Daily Texan.3 The rationale for electing the editor stems from a desire to keep The Daily Texan focused on serving the student body rather than the administration, faculty, or any other interest group. “Historically, electing the editor seems to have ensured the paper’s independent voice,” wrote former editor Mike Godwin. “Instead of being hired by some student-government committee, or by the Student Assembly, or by the staff, or by the UT faculty, the editor (as well as the managing editor, who was also elected) was elected by and felt directly accountable to the students at large.”4                                                                                                                
3

Doug Lederman, “The End of Newsroom Democracy,” Inside Higher Ed, March 16, 2005, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/03/16/texan3_16 (accessed March 29, 2013).
4

Mike Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You (But It Used To): How a Student Newspaper Was Robbed of Its Independence,” UTmost, October 1987.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two

66  

The primary potential drawback to an elected editorship is that it could enable wellorganized and highly unified student voting blocs such as the Greek community to elect favored candidates who would act according to the bloc’s interests. Texan Editor-in-Chief Ben Heath cited exactly this concern when supporting the TSM Board’s 2005 attempt to change the editorship from an elected to an appointed position. Heath asserted that there is rarely widespread student interest in the election of the Texan editor and that voters instead are “dominated by special interests.”5 Former Texan news editor Siva Vaidhyanathan said this was never a problem, however, because of the makeup of the University of Texas student body. “The Greek scene was very exclusive,” he said. “And they never represented more than 10 percent of students [today, 14 percent of undergraduates are Greek6]. Although they were more motivated, they were not an effective force in influencing Texan elections. I can’t remember any Texan editors involved in the Greek community.”7 Overall, Vaidhyanathan said the composition of the student body was “somewhat Madisonian,” with a variety of interest groups vying for influence and balancing one another out at the polls.8 There are also statutory checks on the influence of powerful interest groups upon the election of the Texan editor. The TSM Handbook stipulates that candidates for the editorship are required to have worked for the Texan for at least two semesters prior to their election.9                                                                                                                
5 6

Lederman, “The End of Newsroom Democracy.”

Office of the Dean of Students, “Sorority and Fraternity Community,” The University of Texas at Austin, http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/sfl/comm.php (accessed March 30, 2013).
7 8 9

Siva Vaidhyanathan, interview by author, Charlottesville, VA, January 23, 2013. Siva Vaidhyanathan, interview by author. Texas Student Media, Handbook, 2-4.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two This prevents outside interest groups from electing their own members to lead The Daily Texan. In addition, candidates for the Texan editorship are required to have taken a media law course.10 Regardless of its actual benefits for the organization, the elected editorship remains very popular within the Texan and the University of Texas at large. Each time the elected editorship has been threatened, Texan staff and the student body have reacted forcefully to

67  

preserve the tradition. Several examples of this can be found in the section of the preceding chapter detailing the Texan’s history. Although it does not choose the Texan editor-in-chief, the TSM Board does appoint other Texan editors including the managing editor. The individuals appointed to these editorships must fulfill requirements established by the TSM Board, especially in the area of journalism education. For example, candidates for managing editor are required to have taken or to be enrolled in two specific 300-level journalism classes before being considered for the position.11 The TSM Board also delineates responsibilities for the paper’s student editors. Thus, the TSM Board has been able to exert tremendous control over the student leadership structure despite its inability to eliminate the elected editorship. After Editor-in-Chief Roger Campbell’s failed attempt to abolish the elected editorship in 1983, the TSM Board approved a separate proposal that limited the editor-in-chief’s editorial responsibility to the paper’s opinion pages. It is the Board-appointed managing editor, meanwhile, who controls the majority of the literary content in the Texan. Therefore, the staff member with the most                                                                                                                
10 11

Texas Student Media, Handbook, 2-4. Texas Student Media, Handbook, 2-6.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two

68  

influence on the paper’s content and coverage is now directly accountable to the TSM Board rather than the student body at large, an outcome that challenges the ideal behind the elected editorship. At the Texan, there are also two important non-student staff positions. First is the Director, who oversees all non-content aspects of the organization. The Director also must “appoint and supervise” a position known as the Editorial Adviser, which was first added to the staff in 1948.12 The editorial adviser fills a controversial role at the newspaper as the individual charged with reviewing certain literary content prior to publication to protect against libel. According to the TSM Handbook, the editorial advisor may “review copy prior to publication only when requested by any staff member.”13 Vaidhyanathan indicated that the editorial adviser generally maintains a non-interventionist approach. “[He] was there to review for potential libel but nothing else,” he said. “I worked there four years, and I don’t remember a case of a story being held out because of libel.”14 Nevertheless, a 2007 article on the website of the Student Press Law Center stated: Every article published in The Daily Texan has been subject to prior review since 1971, as part of the original trust agreement between the university and the newspaper. The original agreement gave the board of regents complete liability for the newspaper and required review of each issue by an adviser before publication.15 The article was reporting on an amendment to the TSM Declaration of Trust that reassigned legal liability for the newspaper’s content from the Board of Regents to the TSM Board. The                                                                                                                
12 13 14 15

Texas Student Media, Handbook, 2-2; Godwin, “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You.” Texas Student Media, Handbook (Austin: January 22, 2007), 2-3. Siva Vaidhyanathan, interview by author.

Jared Taylor, “Texas Student Publications Board looks to end board-mandated prior review,” Student Press Law Center, January 22, 2007, http://www.splc.org/news/newsflash.asp?id=1407 (accessed March 30, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two

69  

amendment stipulated that the Board had not “investigated, monitored or taken other actions to ensure that the student media are operated in compliance with applicable laws, nor have they undertaken or assumed any duty, obligation or responsibility to do so.”16 Rather, this responsibility was transferred along with legal liability to the TSM Board. The maintenance of the editorial adviser since the 2007 amendment, however, suggests that the TSM Board still desires a professional check upon the content that appears in the Texan. On the business side of TSM operations, ultimate responsibility rests with the TSM Board. The TSM Board approves all contracts and budgets for the constituent organizations. It does, however, delegate some responsibility to an Executive Committee comprising the Business School faculty member on the TSM Board, the College of Communication faculty member on the TSM Board, one additional voting non-student member of the TSM Board, and two voting student members of the TSM Board. The TSM Board elects these individuals to the Executive Committee each year, where they develop and recommend budgets for all constituent publications and media outlets except the Cactus yearbook.17 It is the responsibility of the Director to recommend the budget for the Cactus. This structure balances student and professional input on budgetary matters. Although a majority of the TSM Executive Committee is non-student, the majority-student TSM Board retains the final say on all financial decisions for the organization.

                                                                                                               
16 17

Texas Student Media, Handbook, 10. Texas Student Media, Handbook, 1-9.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two The Red & Black

70  

The Red & Black at the University of Georgia is structured with a similar emphasis on professional management of finances and editorial content. The Red & Black is the flagship publication of The Red and Black Publishing Company, Inc., which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that also produces the Ampersand magazine. The company features a 22-member Board of Directors, comprising a number of media professionals, Red & Black alumni, and the chairman of the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism. Unlike at Texas Student Media, there are no students on the company’s board of directors. The company also employs several professionals on the staff of The Red & Black newspaper. Most prominent is Harry Montevideo, who serves on the board of directors and is the newspaper’s publisher. Montevideo’s role at the paper came under scrutiny in August 2012 when the newspaper’s student editors resigned in protest of a change in the organization’s structure. During the controversy, the student editors published company tax forms that revealed Montevideo’s 2010 salary was about $173,000.18 Montevideo’s salary raised eyebrows not only because it comprised about 17 percent of the organization’s total expenses but also because it had increased from $124,000 in 2008.19 Thus, the tax forms indicated that Montevideo had received a 40 percent raise immediately before the newspaper’s 2011 announcement that it was reducing print frequency from daily to weekly in part to save money. Moreover, Montevideo is not the only compensated individual on staff.

                                                                                                               
18

“Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax,” 2010, 7, http://redanddead.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/2011.pdf (accessed March 30, 2013).
19

“Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax,” 2008, 7, http://redanddead.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/2009.pdf (accessed March 30, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two The Red and Black, Inc.’s 2010 tax filing reported $333,075 in other salaries and wages, which exceeded the amount of money the newspaper spent on printing.20

71  

Among the paid professionals on staff is an editorial advisor, whose role traditionally has been to work with student editors to improve the newspaper’s content. The controversy that precipitated the resignation of the paper’s student editors in 2012, however, involved the Red and Black Board’s attempt to restructure the responsibilities of the editorial advisor. The advisor was renamed the newspaper’s “editorial director,” and according to numerous news accounts he was given total editorial control of The Red & Black.21 A draft memo to the editorial director and other professional staff stated explicitly, “You are accountable for the final product,” and it instructed them to exercise oversight “by correcting poor quality before publication and grading quality post-publication.”22 This amounted to a significant reinterpretation of the professional staff’s role in influencing the editorial content of the newspaper. Whereas the student staff historically exercised control over the newspaper’s content, the memo indicated that now professionals would be directing those editorial decisions. “For years, students have had final approval of the paper followed by a critique by the adviser only after articles were published,” wrote Editor-in-Chief Polina Marinova upon resigning from her post in protest. “However, from now on, that will not be the case. Recently, editors have felt pressure to assign stories they

                                                                                                               
20 21

“Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax,” 2010, 10.

For example: “Turmoil at U. of Georgia Newspaper,” Inside Higher Ed, August 16, 2012, http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/08/16/turmoil-u-georgia-newspaper#ixzz23kkBAmz7 (accessed March 30, 2013).
22

“Expectations of Editorial Director at The Red and Black,” August 15, 2012, http://redanddead.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/draftmemo.pdf (accessed March 30, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two didn’t agree with, take ‘grip and grin’ photos and compromise the design of the paper.”23 Marinova’s comment suggests that non-student intervention into editorial decision-making may have begun even before the circulation of the memo.

72  

Eventually, the crisis was resolved when the student editors and Red and Black Board agreed that the organizational structure would revert to its previous state. The Board issued a joint statement with the student editors that read, in part, “As a board, we reiterate our commitment to student journalism and The Red and Black as a training ground. We want to be clear that students have editorial control over the contents of our publications with no prior review.”24 The Board also stated that it would seek to appoint students to its membership “as provided in our by-laws and discussed during our summer meeting.”25 According to the Daily Report, the Red and Black Board bylaws state, “Two of the ex-officio members shall be the current student editor and student advertising manager of The Red & Black, and shall be active students of the University of Georgia.”26 This means the Board is currently operating in violation of its own bylaws by not having any student members.

                                                                                                               
23

Polina Marinova, “Letter from the Editor in Chief,” Red and Dead, August 16, 2012, http://redanddead.com/2012/08/16/letter-from-the-editor-in-chief/ (accessed March 30, 2013).
24

Red and Black student editors, board and publisher, “Our last statement,” Red and Dead, August 20, 2012, http://redanddead.com/2012/08/20/our-last-statement/ (accessed March 30, 2013).
25 26

Red and Black student editors, board and publisher, “Our last statement.”

Katheryn Hayes Tucker, “Red & Black board falls short of student member rule,” Daily Report, August 30, 2012, http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleDRO.jsp?id=1202569554390&Red__Black_board_falls_short_of _student_member_rule&slreturn=20130125115459 (accessed February 9, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two Although the Board professed its intention to add student members, none were among the eight appointees announced in February 2013.27 Current University of Georgia students do continue to serve as the newspaper’s editors and managers, and Montevideo remains the publisher. The Red and Black Board appoints these editors, and they “carry out the day-to-day duties of publishing the newspaper.”28 The Columbia Missourian

73  

The University of Missouri features the oldest journalism school in the world, and it is therefore worth considering how student newspapers are structured at the school. There are two student newspapers at the University of Missouri, each with a highly distinct organizational structure. The Columbia Missourian is the school’s oldest newspaper and features an almost peerless level of professional influence, as well as a strong attachment to the university’s journalism school. In fact, the Missourian’s history has been intertwined with the journalism school since its inception — both institutions began operating on September 14, 1908, and the Missourian was initially a formal component of the journalism school. The Missourian has since separated from the journalism school, but today is structured in such a way that it barely qualifies as a student newspaper at all — it is, in fact, much more similar to a small city newspaper. The second student media model at the University of Missouri is that of The Maneater, which is an independent, student-run newspaper closer in structure to The                                                                                                                
27

“Red & Black Appoints Eight Board Members,” The Red and Black Publishing Co. press release, February 5, 2013, http://www.redandblack.com/ugalife/red-black-appoints-eight-board-members/article_1ed36234-6fd311e2-a39f-001a4bcf6878.html (accessed March 30, 2013).
28

The Red & Black, “About Us,” The Red & Black, http://www.redandblack.com/site/about.html (accessed March 30, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two

74  

Red & Black. Because this paper’s organizational model was explored earlier in this chapter, the following section will focus on the Missourian. The Missourian Publishing Association (MPA) is the entity that publishes the Missourian. The MPA is chartered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, but it signed an affiliation agreement with the University of Missouri in 1995 that ties the two organizations very closely together. “The primary purpose of the Association is to provide an educational opportunity for the students of the School of Journalism of the University of MissouriColumbia through the publication of the Columbia Missourian,” the Affiliation Agreement reads, in part.29 Accordingly, the agreement and the MPA constitution establish an organizational structure that ensures the MPA’s leadership comes from within the university. The constitution stipulates that the MPA membership shall be limited to “alumni and faculty of the School of Journalism of the University of Missouri-Columbia and other alumni of the University of Missouri-Columbia who are or who have been publishers or executives of newspapers.”30 These members elect from within their body 15 members of the MPA Board, with the other two elected by the advertising faculty and news-editorial faculty of the journalism school. This means the MPA Board is entirely faculty and alumni, with no student representation. In addition to its faculty- and professional-dominated Board, the Missourian features a staff of faculty leading its newsroom. Executive Editor Tom Warhover is chief among this

                                                                                                               
29

The Curators of the University of Missouri and the Missourian Publishing Association, “Affiliation Agreement,” 1.
30

Missourian Publishing Association, “Constitution of the Missourian Publishing Association,” April 23, 1999,

1.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two

75  

group of 16 or 17 individuals he has dubbed “editor-professors.”31 The Missourian’s facultycomprised editorial staff is radically different than the student-run newsrooms at The Daily Texan, The Red & Black, and The Cavalier Daily, but it is in accordance with the organization’s affiliation agreement with the university that stipulates “students work under the supervision of professional faculty/editors as part of their preparation for careers in those fields.”32 Although the MPA is a non-profit organization technically independent of the university, the Missourian’s faculty editors are considered employees of the latter and not the former. According to the affiliation agreement, “All individuals who are employees of the Missourian on the day prior to the effective date of this agreement will be offered University employment on the effective date of this agreement with equivalent responsibility and pay. All such individuals will be subject to University rules and regulations and will be made available as requested by the Missourian, but subject to prior approval by the University.”33 In other words, the university determines the salaries, benefits, and responsibilities of the faculty who serve as the MPA editorial staff. This financial dependence potentially jeopardizes the ideal of autonomy toward which the Missourian strives. Even the faculty leader of the newsroom, Warhover, admits this fact. “Yeah, it probably does,” he said when

                                                                                                               
31 32

Tom Warhover, interview by author, Charlottesville, VA, February 20, 2013.

The Curators of the University of Missouri and the Missourian Publishing Association, “Affiliation Agreement,” 1.
33

The Curators of the University of Missouri and the Missourian Publishing Association, “Affiliation Agreement,” 2.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two asked about whether the Missourian’s organizational structure poses a risk to independence.34 Warhover pointed out, however, that some checks are in place to minimize those risks. “When I was hired, I was hired with tenure... because the J-School wanted to ensure

76  

the person with the highest power would have the most protection from capriciousness,” he said.35 This is an effective method of insulating the top faculty leader at the Missourian from potential meddling by the university administration. If the administration cannot threaten the professor’s employment and compensation in the case of an editorial disagreement, then it loses most of the leverage it would otherwise have over the faculty staff leader. The university also exercises influence upon the Missourian in several other ways. The affiliation agreement stipulates, for example, that the General Manager of the Missourian is considered a university employee and is selected by the journalism school dean in cooperation with the MPA Board. In addition, the affiliation agreement asserts that the Missourian must grant the university two newspaper pages per week for its “sole use and discretion.”36 Thus, the MPA is a non-profit organization rather than an “auxiliary enterprise” like The Daily Texan, but it has obligations to its university that far exceed those of other nonprofits such as The Red & Black and The Cavalier Daily. According to Warhover, there are about 30-35 paid, part-time student staff members who serve below the Missourian faculty editors. He said the remaining staff members — about 300 individuals — are students enrolled in specific courses at the University of                                                                                                                
34 35 36

Tom Warhover, interview by author. Tom Warhover, interview by author.

The Curators of the University of Missouri and the Missourian Publishing Association, “Affiliation Agreement,” 5.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two Missouri journalism school. This model means the Missourian trains its staff in a structure

77  

more similar to an employer-intern relationship than the student-controlled newsroom setup that characterizes The Daily Texan, The Red & Black, and The Cavalier Daily. Faculty and professionals not only are the ones steering the Missourian’s business decisions, but also the editorial policies and content of the newspaper. Students learn from these individuals in a controlled environment where they can gain experience for use in eventual careers in professional journalism. The Cavalier Daily The Cavalier Daily, Inc. is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit publishing The Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia. The organization features a five-member Board of Directors comprising The Cavalier Daily’s editor-in-chief, executive editor, managing editor, operations manager, and chief financial officer. The newspaper’s staff uses a system of weighted voting to elect five individuals annually to fill these roles. The editor-in-chief also functions as the newspaper’s chief executive officer, and the managing editor and executive editor serve as co-vice presidents of the organization. Current university students fill all of these positions, and there have been no full-time professionals on the Cavalier Daily staff since the newspaper’s receptionist passed away in 2006.37 In addition, the 200-member staff is entirely composed of volunteers except for the advertising staff, which is paid on commission.

                                                                                                               
37

Justin Bernick, “A fond farewell,” The Cavalier Daily, February 20, 2007, http://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2007/02/a-fond-farewell23606/ (accessed March 30, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two The organization’s contemporary structure is very different from what it has been historically. From 1958 through 1976, the Board of Directors for The Cavalier Daily

78  

consisted of the elected student vice presidents of the University’s 10 undergraduate schools. These individuals also served ex officio on the Honor Committee, an organization that was a major subject of Cavalier Daily coverage.38 This created a conflict of interest within The Cavalier Daily Board and led to the search for a revised structure. There were two other possible reasons for the subsequent changes that were made to The Cavalier Daily’s organizational structure. First, in the years between World War II and 1976 the university saw a significant expansion of student media. Two radio stations began broadcasting — WUVA in 1947 and WTJU in 1956 — and The Declaration formed as an alternative weekly newsmagazine in 1973. This meant additional student media content for which, in some cases, the University Board of Visitors was legally responsible. A second rationale for later changes was that administrators likely sought to exert greater control over The Cavalier Daily following its negative coverage of newly appointed President Frank Hereford in 1975 and 1976. Thus, following the recommendation of an administrative panel, the University Board of Visitors established a Media Board of Directors in 1976 to oversee all student media at the University. The intent was for the Media Board to serve a role similar to that of the TSM Board — namely, it was to consolidate the various student media outlets at the university under a single administrative entity. In an interesting twist, however, the Board of Visitors determined that the elected student presidents of each undergraduate school — who serve ex                                                                                                                
38

Managing Board, “The Media Rush,” The Cavalier Daily, April 2, 1976; Jim Reagen, “Current panel to name University media board,” The Cavalier Daily, April 1, 1976.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two

79  

officio as Honor Committee members — should select the membership of the Media Board.39 Thus, the conflict of interest inherent to the previous Board of Directors was not fully resolved — the new Media Board members still owed their appointment to a student organization, the Honor Committee, whose actions were covered heavily in student media. The individuals comprising the Media Board were empowered to sanction student media organizations if their content or policies did not accord with Media Board rules and regulations. Specifically, the Media Board could issue private or public letters of censure to student media organizations and could remove managing board members with a six-sevenths majority vote.40 The Media Board also could appoint a faculty advisor to oversee The Cavalier Daily if it so desired.41 Eventually, the Media Board interpreted its power of public censure to mean that it could require The Cavalier Daily to publish letters of censure in its pages. The Cavalier Daily refused to recognize this authority, thereby precipitating the crisis that led to the abolition of the Media Board and the creation of The Cavalier Daily, Inc. as an entity fully independent of the University. For much of The Cavalier Daily’s existence as an independent non-profit corporation, its student staff enjoyed professional support. From 1990 until 2006, Sharon Bradley served as the organization’s paid, full-time receptionist. A tribute to Bradley following her death in late 2006 described some of her responsibilities: While budding journalists slept in to recover from their late-night roll times, Bradley held down the fort. Bradley's official responsibilities at The Cavalier Daily included fielding                                                                                                                
39 40 41

Managing Board, “The Media Rush”; Reagen, “Current panel to name University media board.” Chuck Israel, “Media panel refers CD action to Board,” The Cavalier Daily, March 5, 1979. Managing Board, “The Media Rush.”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two

80  

phone calls, organizing classified ads, delivering and paying the bills, keeping the books and generally making sure vital operations did not slip through the cracks.42 No one was hired to replace Bradley upon her retirement in July 2006, and her responsibilities now lie with members of the student staff. There are no longer any full-time professionals on the organization’s payroll. The Cavalier Daily’s current organizational structure is very different than in the past because of the lack of university and professional involvement. It is also distinct from other student media organizations at the University of Virginia and universities throughout the country. Many other student media groups have boards of directors comprising some combination of faculty members, student body representatives, and media professionals. This is the case at The Daily Texan and The Red & Black, as well as other prominent publications including The State News at Michigan State University, The Daily Press at Arizona State University, The Daily Emerald at the University of Oregon, The Daily Collegian at Pennsylvania State University, and The Daily Tarheel at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In addition, the University of Virginia’s two student-run radio stations have professional guidance. The station WTJU is now officially a part of the university’s Public Affairs division, while WUVA, Inc. remains an independent corporation with a majorityalumni board of directors.43 The Cavalier Daily, in contrast, features an all-student board of directors. Collectively, the five-member board of directors is responsible for setting the organization’s budget, hiring and firing student staff and non-student consultants, and establishing editorial                                                                                                                
42 43

Bernick, “A fond farewell.”

Richard D. Marks and Rick Dreves, “A Concise History of WUVA...” WUVA Online, http://aig.alumni.virginia.edu/wuva/wuva-history/ (accessed March 30, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two

81  

policy. Two of the board members — the editor-in-chief/CEO and the chief financial officer — are also in the unusual position of functioning as C-level officers within the organization. Moreover, all five members of the board of directors serve as leaders of various staff elements and perform functions in the newspaper’s daily production process. The operations manager leads non-literary sections such as graphics, photo, online, and production; the managing editor leads all literary sections except opinion; the executive editor heads the opinion section; the chief financial officer oversees the advertising and business staffs; and the editor-in-chief is responsible for reviewing all content before publication to prevent libel and ensure that editorial standards are met. This means The Cavalier Daily’s all-student board of directors possesses the fiscal and personnel responsibilities of non-student boards at organizations such as Texas Student Media, as well as the day-to-day content management duties of student editors at campus news organizations throughout the nation. Conclusion These four examples — The Daily Texan, The Red & Black, The Columbia Missourian, and The Cavalier Daily — show how student newspapers at large public universities are structured in a variety of ways. To illustrate this fact, the organizations can be plotted on a graph with one axis measuring student involvement in the newspapers’ governance and the other measuring newspapers’ independence from their university administrations:

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two

82  

Figure 2. Student newspapers plotted according to student involvement in leadership, independence from university administrations

 

  Among the newspapers surveyed in this chapter, two stand out as having the most financial and operational independence. The Cavalier Daily and The Red & Black are both published by 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations with no connection to their university administrations. This means each organization controls its own assets and raises its own funds, receiving no subsidies from its university. The only university involvement in The Red & Black comes through a faculty representative from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication who sits on the organization’s Board of Directors. The board is majority non-faculty, however, and therefore it enjoys a high level of

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two autonomy. The Cavalier Daily, meanwhile, has a five-member board of directors that includes no faculty or administrative figures from the University of Virginia.

83  

On the other end of the spectrum are The Columbia Missourian and The Daily Texan. The former is actually chartered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, but its mission is specifically oriented toward supporting the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. Moreover, all of its editors are journalism school faculty and on the university payroll, meaning that the university administration has a very direct means of influencing the content that appears in the Missourian through the hiring and firing of journalism school faculty. This university leverage is mitigated slightly in the case of the faculty leader of the paper, whose tenured status insulates him from administrative power. At the University of Texas, the Board of Regents controls all assets of student media groups pursuant to the 1971 Declaration of Trust with the umbrella group Texas Student Media that operates The Daily Texan. The university does not manage the financial operations of The Daily Texan or other student media, instead granting that responsibility to the TSM Board. The newspaper remains linked to the university administration, however, both because its assets are ultimately the possession of the Board of Regents and because the TSM Board includes three faculty representatives among its 11-person membership who are appointed by the university president. The Declaration of Trust also stipulates that university administrators must approve certain TSM personnel decisions. On the leadership axis, it is The Cavalier Daily and The Daily Texan that feature the most student involvement. At The Cavalier Daily, students are the sole authority over the paper’s business and editorial functions. The Daily Texan, meanwhile, answers to a TSM Board that features majority-student membership. Even within the realm of student  

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Two controlled newspapers, however, there are degrees of difference. Whereas the five students on The Cavalier Daily’s managing board are also editors or managers on the paper’s staff, the six students on the TSM Board are not affiliated with the media groups the body oversees. At both organizations, it is students who direct the editorial operations through

84  

their roles as editors. At The Daily Texan, however, there is a professional editorial advisor for the purpose of preventing libel. The Columbia Missourian and The Red & Black lack the same level of student control. The Columbia Missourian has a non-student board of directors, as well as nonstudent editors. This limits students to the role of content contributors for the newspaper. The Red & Black does feature student editors, as well as a professional editorial advisor. Unlike The Daily Texan and The Cavalier Daily, however, it lacks student membership on its board of directors. This situation persists despite the fact that the organization’s bylaws require student representation on the board. These distinct structures contribute to the way each student newspaper operates. Certain newspapers’ structures are better suited to fulfilling the ideals of student autonomy and editorial freedom that characterize the mission of student media. The newspapers with maximum independence from their universities and the greatest levels of student authority, however, experience tradeoffs in areas related to the business performance of their organizations. The next chapter will explore some of those tradeoffs in the course of outlining various student newspapers’ business models in the 21st century.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three

85  

Chapter Three Contemporary Business Models of Student Newspapers
As discussed in the Introduction, student media organizations are adjusting the ways they operate because of financial pressures and changing audience preferences. This has meant that some newspapers such as The Red & Black have shifted away from the daily print production schedule that has been popular since World War II. Others such as The Daily Illini have decided to continue printing daily while beginning to accept direct university subsidies or other forms of indirect university financial support. In addition, some organizations such as Texas Student Media that operate multiple properties have discontinued or attempted to sell off certain money-losing entities. Thus, student media have experienced divergent evolution as they have coped with challenges to their business models in the first decade and a half of the 21st century. This chapter will explore the results of student media organizations’ adaptive strategies in response to the disruptive force of the Internet and other digital technologies. Texas Student Media Like most student newspapers, The Daily Texan was a self-supporting enterprise for many years because of its print advertising revenue. In fact, the Texan historically generated enough revenue to meet 88 percent of Texas Student Media’s costs.1 Therefore, the newspaper’s surpluses tended to subsidize the other media properties under the TSM                                                                                                                
1

Luke Winkie, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” The Austin Chronicle, May 11, 2012, http://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2012-05-11/whats-the-frequency-kenneth/ (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three

86  

umbrella. In recent years, however, the Texan has experienced the same precipitous decline in print advertising as other student newspapers. Whereas in 2007 the Texan sold more than $2.1 million of advertisements, the newspaper only sold about $1.3 million in 2012.2 This 38 percent decline in advertising revenue in only five years has caused the Texan to begin running annual deficits in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. As of May 2012, in fact, the newspaper had already lost nearly $225,000 for the calendar year — a 15 percent deficit.3 This meant that not only was the Texan no longer serving as a cash cow that could prop up other student media at the University of Texas, but it was in fact becoming another drag on TSM’s financial stability. Other properties were faring almost as poorly. The Texas Travesty humor magazine had an annual deficit of more than $1,800 by May 2012, which amounted to a 5 percent loss. Student radio station KVRX had lost more than $13,000, a deficit of 10 percent.4 In fact, student television station TSTV was TSM’s only profitable entity: It boasted an $18,000 gain by May 2012, amounting to a profit of 10 percent.5 This left TSM in a precarious position, as the organization only had $498,000 in reserves that it could use to cover ballooning deficits.6

                                                                                                               
2

Daily Texan Editorial Board, “Keep The Daily Texan daily,” The Daily Texan, February 19, 2013, http://dailytexanonline.com/opinion/2013/02/19/keep-the-daily-texan-daily (accessed March 31, 2013).
3 4 5 6

Winkie, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” Winkie, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” Winkie, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” Winkie, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three Table 2. Texas Student Media operating profit, Jan.-May 2012 Media property Operating profit (Jan.-May 2012) The Daily Texan -$225,000 Texas Travesty -$1,800 KVRX -$13,000 TSTV $18,000 Total profit -$221,800

87  

This situation prompted then-TSM Director Gary Borders to propose selling off the broadcasting licenses for both KVRX and TSTV in order to generate money for the TSM reserve fund. This one-time cash infusion could have been used to sustain other media properties through additional money-losing years. “I would've liked to sell the broadcasting license to an organization that would keep the student involvement,” Borders said in an interview several months later. “What they're doing right now isn't going to work, not for longer than a year or two. It's not sustainable. They're running out of tricks. You can't keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome.”7 Outgoing University of Texas Vice President of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez subsequently fired Borders, however, after only seven months in the position of TSM director. Borders claimed the firing was a response to his proposal for selling off the two broadcasting licenses. “I was stunned,” he said. “At first I decided to go quietly. But, then I received word indirectly that Dr. Gonzalez was saying the reason I had been let go was because I was unwilling to work on the budget deficit, which is untrue.”8 In addition to Borders’ public protest, members of the TSM Board complained that they were not consulted before the firing. In response, University of Texas President William                                                                                                                
7 8

Winkie, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”

Emily Summars, “University of Texas student media director forced out,” Student Press Law Center, February 23, 2012, http://www.splc.org/news/newsflash.asp?id=2337 (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three Powers, Jr. appointed Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty to investigate the firing. Hegarty determined that Borders did not fulfill a “critical job

88  

requirement” and “lost the confidence of Vice President Gonzalez and Jennifer Hammat; the confidence he could deliver or get Texas Student Media to an operating plan or budget.”9 Ultimately, TSM retained the broadcasting licenses of KVRX and TSTV. The organization’s long-term financial problems remain unresolved, however, and current TSM Director Jalah Goette recently proposed a budget that would have reduced the print frequency of the Texan and other student publications. The budget followed a previous decision to scale back the Texan’s summer print schedule from daily to weekly.10 Although the goal was to bring TSM expenses in line with its depressed revenues and the proposed change to the Texan printing schedule was a modest reduction to a four-day-a-week publication schedule, students and alumni reacted with dismay. The Texan’s editorial board published an editorial titled “Keep The Daily Texan Daily” and alumni formed a group called “Friends of the Texan” to raise money to keep the Texan printing daily.11 The TSM Board eventually adopted a budget that preserved the existing print frequencies of constituent publications, including the Texan’s daily schedule.12 The Boardapproved budget did cut staff salaries and student manager tuition reimbursements by 50

                                                                                                               
9

Summars, “Student media director forced out.” Daily Texan Editorial Board, “Keep The Daily Texan daily.” Daily Texan Editorial Board, “Keep The Daily Texan daily.”

10 11 12

Jordan Rudner, “Texas Student Media keeps paper daily but fails to address long-term concerns,” The Daily Texan, March 3, 2013, http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2013/03/03/texas-student-media-keeps-paperdaily-but-fails-to-address-long-term-concerns (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three percent, but the changes were not enough to balance the TSM budget.13 Goette said the Board elected to pay for the upcoming year’s projected deficit with money from its reserves.14 With only $498,000 in reserve and a prior-year deficit of more than $200,000,

89  

however, TSM will most likely need to adopt a new budgetary strategy within the next few years. The Red & Black The Red & Black made a sharp break with precedent in 2011 when it announced it would stop printing daily newspapers after almost four decades. The print frequency reduction was part of a broader shift in the business strategy of The Red and Black Publishing Company. In addition to scaling back print newspaper production from daily to weekly, the organization decided to rebrand itself as a digital-first news group with daily content posted online. It also launched a monthly newsmagazine known as Ampersand and began a push toward discovering new revenue streams and expanding existing ones.15 For example, The Red and Black, Inc. now publishes a visitors’ guide for the University of Georgia and also leases parking spaces for home football games.16

                                                                                                               
13 14 15

Rudner, “Texas Student Media keeps paper daily but fails to address long-term concerns.” Jalah Goette, interview by author, Charlottesville, VA, March 5, 2013.

Dan Reimold, “Georgia’s Red & Black Student Newspaper Premieres First Magazine Edition Online,” College Media Matters, entry posted on September 13, 2011, http://collegemediamatters.com/2011/09/13/georgias-red-black-student-newspaper-premieres-first-magazineedition-online/ (accessed March 31, 2013).
16

Dan Reimold, “Revolution in Georgia: Student Newspaper Goes Digital First,” PBS MediaShift, entry posted on August 18, 2011, http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2011/08/revolution-in-georgia-student-newspaper-goesdigital-first230.html (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three The Red & Black’s business model shift was partially audience-driven. “As the delivery method for journalism continues to evolve with more and more of an emphasis on digital options, the days of students reading the paper, weather [sic] to kill time between classes, or often during classes, has declined rapidly over the past few years,” Publisher

90  

Harry Montevideo wrote to The Red & Black Board of Directors. “While it used to be such a treat for me to visit campus and see in person, student upon student focused on the pages of The Red and Black, a walk on campus now quickly reveals how these eyeballs have shifted to smart phones, tablet computers, laptops and away from printed products of many types, including textbooks.”17 Montevideo’s observation harkens back to the Pew Research Center’s News Consumption Survey, which found that only six percent of 18-24 year olds read a print newspaper the day before they were surveyed. The Red & Black also chose to change its business model in order to provide an improved learning environment for its journalism students. “…[O]ur student staff is most assuredly better served focusing more on the 24/7 digital delivery of news and information as the future of journalism continues to evolve in that direction,” Montevideo wrote. “The Red and Black should also look at this as an opportunity to evolve from a traditional newspaper business model, to an educational institution by scaling back print frequency, increasing online publishing frequency and improving educational opportunities for students interested in learning the current trends in journalism, advertising, marketing, business and technology.”18 In other words, The Red & Black’s restructuring acknowledged that a parallel trend to the decline in print readership is the decreasing number of job opportunities in print                                                                                                                
17 18

Harry Montevideo, “Fwd: Two items for you,” e-mail message to author, November 5, 2012. Harry Montevideo, “Fwd: Two items for you,” e-mail message to author.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three

91  

publishing relative to digital publishing.19 Thus, the organization sought to focus its student staff on fulfilling tasks oriented toward digital content production. Finally, The Red & Black’s restructuring was a response to troubling financial trends. Although the organization had more than $3 million in reserves when it made the decision to reduce print frequency in 2011, Montevideo wrote to the Board that a failure to act would mean “risking the future of the company.”20 He stated that the paper’s local advertising revenue declined from $914,000 in 2005-2006 to $653,000 in 2009-2010, a drop of about 29 percent. “They will fall again by a similar annual amount this year,” he wrote of the revenues, “and I fully expect them to decline next year regardless of print frequency.”21 Given this reality, Montevideo argued the best option was for the newspaper to begin scaling back its costs in accordance with its declining revenues. Montevideo also projected The Red & Black’s likely financial performance under a weekly print publishing model. His staff compared the status quo of printing daily to the alternative of printing weekly and found the latter would save $184,993 in annual expenses. Montevideo estimated $70,000 of these savings would come from reduced printing costs; another $15,000 from insert and distribution fees; $13,250 from employee health insurance and payroll taxes; $52,000 from reduced labor costs related to the production department; $16,000 from reduced compensation to the advertising department; and $18,743 from other

                                                                                                               
19

Matthew Yglesias, “The Decline of Publishing and the Rise of "Other Information Services,” Slate, February 8, 2012, http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/02/08/the_decline_of_publishing_and_the_rise_of_quot_other_inf ormation_services_quot_.html (accessed March 28, 2013).
20 21

Harry Montevideo, “Fwd: Two items for you,” e-mail message to author. Harry Montevideo, “Fwd: Two items for you,” e-mail message to author.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three

92  

sources.22 Montevideo also projected the paper would experience a $105,342 revenue decline versus publishing daily, taking into account an expected 10 percent structural decline in advertising revenue that would occur in either scenario. A portion of the lost print advertising would be recouped through additional online advertising revenue, which Montevideo estimated would double. These numbers indicated that under a weekly print publishing model the newspaper would enjoy a profit margin almost $80,000 higher than what it would achieve printing daily.23 Table 3. Profit margin impact of shifting to weekly publication at The Red & Black
Savings Printing costs Insert/distribution fees Health insurance/taxes Production labor costs Advertising compensation Other Total Savings $70,000 $15,000 $13,250 $52,000 $16,000 $18,743 $184,993 -$105,342 $79,651

Net revenue impact Profit margin impact

The Red and Black, Inc.’s new product would no longer be a daily print newspaper but rather a daily online newspaper supplemented with a weekly print newspaper and monthly newsmagazine. This meant that the content in the print newspaper had to change to reflect its decreased frequency. “The weekly paper will feature only the top, in-depth items of events from all section — news, sports, opinions and variety — while adding the news you can use items — event calendars, sports agate, a top five entertainment things to do — to

                                                                                                               
22 23

Harry Montevideo, “Fwd: Two items for you,” e-mail message to author. Harry Montevideo, “Fwd: Two items for you,” e-mail message to author.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three make for an engaging read,” Montevideo wrote in his message to the Board.24 Montevideo

93  

added that breaking news coverage would appear online, freeing up space in the weekly print newspaper for long-form feature stories that could not fit into the existing daily print product. The print edition of The Red & Black also underwent a redesign oriented toward directing readers to its online content, especially its social media accounts and website. Finally, The Red & Black sought to make its digital presence the core of its business model. The organization added a new commenting system to its website, altered its process for managing social media, and optimized its website for mobile devices. Interestingly, Montevideo dismissed the idea of the organization developing its own mobile apps despite the fact that this has become an increasingly popular mode of content distribution among news organizations. Rather, he suggested The Red & Black could contract with an outside group to produce an app or find another way to deliver its online content to mobile devices.25 In addition to its content restructuring, The Red & Black revamped its advertising options to reverse a multiyear decline in revenue. Rather than continuing to focus on discrete advertising sales, the organization created seven monthly packages of advertising with differing frequencies and mixes of distribution channels. Among the new advertising options were full run-of-paper ads in the print newspaper, ads in the Ampersand newsmagazine, banner ads on the newspaper website, ads in special edition newspapers, the visitor’s guide, classified ads, event calendar listings, and marketplace listings.26 This diverse array of advertising choices was meant to attract new clients and retain existing ones who were                                                                                                                
24 25 26

Harry Montevideo, “Fwd: Two items for you,” e-mail message to author. Harry Montevideo, “Fwd: Two items for you,” e-mail message to author. The Red & Black Multimedia Programs, 2012-2013.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three growing skeptical of the traditionally print-centric approach to advertising. The status quo

94  

model was falling out of favor because of the high prices of print advertising relative to many other advertising formats, as well as the frustrating difficulty of quantifying the effectiveness of print advertising. The Red & Black’s switch to a subscription model also has the potential to make the organization’s revenue stream more consistent, which would improve its ability to budget effectively. The Red & Black leadership projected that this approach to advertising would keep revenue levels stable, which coupled with a reduction in expenses would bring about greater profit margins for the organization. Advertising Manager Natalie McClure offered three reasons for this expectation. First, she ascertained through conversations with advertisers that at least half of The Red & Black’s top 50 clients were “in development with projects to provide enhancements to their digital media – shifting their strategy toward online.”27 Second, she projected that 90 percent of these clients would spend roughly the same amount per week because they were advertising weekly already, seeking to boost their online image, or spending from a fixed corporate advertising budget. Finally, McClure said the newspaper had built up enough credibility among advertisers that they would trust the organization to make business decisions that would preserve its dominance in the University of Georgia market. In search of further empirical support for their revenue projections, Montevideo and McClure broke down the ad buys from the organization’s top 50 local and top 35 university advertisers into two categories: primary and secondary ad buys. The former category comprised the largest ad of a buy that ran during a given week, whereas the latter comprised                                                                                                                
27

Harry Montevideo, “Fwd: Two items for you,” e-mail message to author.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three all other ads from the same buy that ran within the same week. McClure and Montevideo

95  

found that about 67 percent of ad spending was in the category of primary buys, meaning the majority of the newspaper’s revenue came from advertising that would not be affected by a switch to weekly print publication. Implicit in McClure and Montevideo’s revenue projections for a weekly newspaper was an expectation that The Red & Black could increase the number of pages per issue and thereby publish a week’s worth of ads in that single issue. In addition, one Board member raised the possibility that The Red & Black could charge higher rates for print ads because the shelf-life of a weekly newspaper would be longer, which might increase its pick-up rates.28 According to Montevideo, the business model shift has achieved several of the goals that The Red & Black sought while falling short of others. The organization reached its advertising targets in 2012, experiencing a year-over-year decline in advertising of 20 percent.29 Ten percent of that decline was due to a secular trend that would have occurred regardless of the print frequency reduction. The other 10 percent was consistent with Montevideo and McClure’s projection that fewer print editions would mean a slight reduction in print advertising revenue. As predicted, the cost savings achieved from cutting four print editions per week dwarfed the lost revenue. In addition, the organization succeeded at least initially in switching advertisers to the subscription-based model they planned to use

                                                                                                               
28 29

Harry Montevideo, “Fwd: Two items for you,” e-mail message to author. Harry Montevideo, interview by author, Charlottesville, VA, November 5, 2012.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three

96  

as a replacement for discrete ad sales. Montevideo said The Red & Black sold more than 50 monthly packages within the first three months of their introduction.30 Among the plan’s shortcomings was a year-over-year decline in print readership of 10 percent. This was especially disappointing because the organization hoped the longer shelf life of the weekly newspaper would increase its pickup rates. “Take the paper out of their minds every day, and it’s no longer a part of their daily habit,” said Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Fouriezos. “People can ignore a print product just as much as they can ignore an online product.”31 Furthermore, Montevideo admitted The Red & Black’s increase in web traffic had only been “modest” since the change.32 The Red & Black’s decision to alter its business model caused a stir not only in the world of student journalism, but also in the world of journalism at large. Many other student newspapers took notice, and within the next two years several prominent organizations announced they were following suit. The Daily Emerald at the University of Oregon was the first to do so in October 2012 when it switched from printing daily to semi-weekly, and The State Press at Arizona State University began printing weekly in Spring 2013. The UWM Post at the University of Wisconsin, Madison ceased print publication entirely at the same time, and Texas Student Media at the University of Texas began contemplating cuts to the print frequency of The Daily Texan. Meanwhile, The Cavalier Daily at University of Virginia announced in January 2013 that it would switch to semiweekly print production in August 2013. The specifics of that change are outlined later in this chapter.                                                                                                                
30

Harry Montevideo, “More on multi-media program sales at The Red and Black,” e-mail message to author, November 5, 2012.
31 32

Daily Texan Editorial Board, “Keep The Daily Texan daily.” Harry Montevideo, interview by author.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three The Columbia Missourian

97  

As a faculty- and professional-driven organization, The Columbian Missourian has a business model that is notably different than the other student newspapers examined in this thesis. The additional attention from non-student staff, as well as the university’s financial support in paying those faculty members’ salaries, allows the Missourian to produce significantly more content than those papers with an all-student or majority-student leadership. This is evidenced by the fact that until 2009 the Missourian published on a sevenday-per-week schedule rather than on the five-day-per-week schedule of most other daily student newspapers, including The Daily Texan, The Red & Black, and The Cavalier Daily. In addition to its daily newspaper, the Missourian Publishing Association (MPA) also produced a semi-weekly total market coverage (TMC) supplement and a Sunday newsmagazine. The MPA did execute a print frequency reduction in 2009, scaling back the Missourian to a five-day-per-week print schedule and eliminating the TMC and Sunday newsmagazine. Executive Editor Tom Warhover said this move followed naturally from the Missourian’s decision in 2007 to become a “digital-first” news organization. “If you’re digital first,” he said, “you say we’re not going to do wild and crazy things [in print].”33 The Missourian is exceptional, however, because even after declaring itself to be digital-first its print production level is the same as those of most print-first student newspapers. The Missourian’s foray into digital journalism actually began much earlier, however. The organization created a citizen journalism website in 2002-2003, and in 2005 it launched                                                                                                                
33

Tom Warhover, interview by author.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three

98  

a tablet edition newspaper at a time when few other student or professional newspapers had begun to shift their attention away from print. This was in keeping with the organization’s enterprising spirit: Decades earlier in 1985 the Missourian began using a local-area network, making it the world’s first newspaper to adopt what would later become a common technology.34 The Missourian also started using a computerized pagination system in 1986. The Missourian went even further toward digital-first production in 2010-2011 when it “segregated the print desk,” according to Warhover. “We physically put them in the corner and moved our web desk in the center [of the office],” he said. “The print desk picks up its content from the website.”35 The Missourian has since launched apps for mobile devices, and it has even begun using a modified paywall system that charges users for access to certain content. The system is different than the ones in place at The New York Times and a number of other professional media organizations. “At the Times or most other places, you can get five or ten articles free [per month],” Warhover said. “In our system, you get everything free within 24 hours of its publication. But for articles older than 24 hours you have to be a member to access.”36 In other words, users can access an unlimited amount of breaking news coverage at the Missourian for free but to access past news it is necessary to pay a $5.95 monthly fee.

                                                                                                               
34

Wikipedia contributors, "Columbia Missourian," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Columbia_Missourian&oldid=524452158 (accessed March 31, 2013).
35 36

Tom Warhover, interview by author. Tom Warhover, interview by author.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three Further changes are in the works at the Missourian, including a possible print redesign. Warhover said a print frequency reduction below five days per week is not imminent, however, but may be considered in several years. The Cavalier Daily Business model changes at The Cavalier Daily began in February 2012 when the newspaper discontinued printing on Fridays. This marked the first time since 1972 that the

99  

paper would not be publishing in print five days per week during the school year. At the time of its announcement, the move was billed as temporary until the paper could reassess its financial situation. “All your favorite content — news and sports stories, columns and comics, and of course editorials — will still be available Fridays on cavalierdaily.com,” the managing board wrote in a February 20 editorial. “The print edition, however, will no longer be available for the time being.”37 The newspaper cited its desire to avoid the fate of The Daily Illini, which had to ask students for fee money to support the flailing institution. Given The Cavalier Daily’s tortured history with its university administration, the newspaper’s managing board hinted that it did not wish to take student fee money that the administration technically would control. The Managing Board also wrote, “Stacked against costs of printing, distribution and rent - we pay for our space in Newcomb - our sole revenue comes from advertising. We believe this financial model will remain sustainable in the coming years, as it has for more

                                                                                                               
37

Managing Board, “Final Fridays,” The Cavalier Daily, February 23, 2012, http://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2012/02/final-Fridays (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three

100  

than a century.”38 This proved to be an overly optimistic assessment of The Cavalier Daily’s situation, however, because within a year even more significant changes to the organization’s business model were announced. In January 2013, the newspaper issued a press release stating that in August 2013 The Cavalier Daily would shift from printing four times a week to printing a semiweekly newsmagazine.39 At the same time, it would scale up online offerings through the introduction of an email newsletter, the creation of mobile and tablet apps, and the expansion of its multimedia content.40 Much like at The Red & Black, the business model shift at The Cavalier Daily was partially a response to changes in audience behavior. The Cavalier Daily circulated 10,000 copies in print Monday through Thursday during 2012, but a survey of pick-up rates at the newspaper’s distribution stands found disappointing readership levels. The MondayWednesday newspapers, in particular, were identified as unpopular with readers. The Thursday edition of the newspaper was found to have significantly higher pick-up rates, however, likely because it was on stands for four days rather than one. This caused the paper’s management to conclude that there was still demand for a print news product, but not a daily print newspaper. The paper’s management also identified online content as an area with strong growth potential. In 2012, The Cavalier Daily, Inc. contracted with State News, Inc. for the provision of a website redesign and content management system. Following the launch of the website                                                                                                                
38 39

Managing Board, “Final Fridays.”

“Press Release: Cavalier Daily announces restructuring plan,” The Cavalier Daily, Inc. press release, January 25, 2013, http://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2013/01/press-release-cavalier-daily-announces-restructuringplan (accessed March 31, 2013).
40

“Press Release: Cavalier Daily announces restructuring plan,” The Cavalier Daily, Inc. press release.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three

101  

redesign in September 2012, the organization experienced substantial growth in its website traffic. Total website visits during the first three months of 2013 were 53 percent higher than during the first three months of 2012, page views increased 43 percent during the same time period, and unique visitors climbed 30 percent.41 In addition, the newspaper’s social media presence was a source of growth in 2012. Referral traffic from Facebook to cavalierdaily.com increased 133 percent from the first three months of 2012 to the same period in 2013, although the share of web traffic from this source actually declined one percent during the same period. Even more impressive was the 882 percent growth in referral traffic from Twitter, which pushed the share of traffic from that source to increase from 7 percent to 28 percent.42 The Cavalier Daily’s following on Twitter also jumped from 1,200 accounts in January 2012 to more than 7,200 accounts a year later, representing annual growth of more than 500 percent. The number of “likes” on its Facebook page increased from 450 in January 2012 to slightly less than 1,500 in January 2013, annual growth of about 233 percent. Table 4. Year-over-year growth in Cavalier Daily digital metrics Year-over-year growth (%) Website visits 53 Page views 43 Unique visitors 30 Facebook referrals 133 Twitter referrals 882 Twitter followers 500 Facebook likes 233

                                                                                                               
41 42

Jan. 1 – March 31, 2013 vs. Jan. 1 – March 31, 2012. Jan. 1 – March 31, 2013 vs. Jan. 1 – March 31, 2012.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three

102  

These numbers illustrated pent up demand for expanded digital content among The Cavalier Daily’s target audience. This factored into the decision to become a digital-first news organization similar to The Red & Black. Whereas readership of the print newspaper was declining, Cavalier Daily leaders felt the organization could regain relevance in the University of Virginia community through focusing even more attention on its digital offerings. This approach was consistent with the organization’s own data, as well as the Pew Research Center’s finding that 60 percent of 18-24 year olds consumed news online versus only 6 percent in print.43 In addition, a group called the U.Va. Parents Committee awarded The Cavalier Daily a $20,000 grant in October 2012 specifically for the purpose of expanding its digital content.44 This further illustrated the growth opportunities in digital content vis-à-vis print. There was also a financial component to The Cavalier Daily’s decision. In the years preceding the announcement of the restructuring plan, the organization had struggled with debt problems and at one point owed more than $75,000 to its printer and landlord. The organization was also reeling from a 58 percent decline in print advertising revenue from 2007 through 2012. Cavalier Daily leadership projected this trend would continue in the coming years and would force the paper close to bankruptcy by 2015. Thus, the potential savings from a print frequency reduction were quite attractive since no obvious improvement in the revenue situation was forthcoming. The exact savings from the print frequency                                                                                                                
43

Pew Research Center, Americans spending more time following the news, 14, September 12, 2010, http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/652.pdf (accessed December 9, 2012); Pew Research Center, In changing news landscape, even television is vulnerable, 10, September 27, 2012, http://www.peoplepress.org/files/legacy-pdf/2012%20News%20Consumption%20Report.pdf (accessed December 9, 2012).
44

“Grants Awarded,” U.Va. Parents Committee, http://www.uvaparents.org/projects-funded (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three

103  

reduction, however, were not known until the organization signed a revised printing contract in January 2013. The contract locked in about $40,000 in savings during the 2014 calendar year, an expenses reduction of roughly 22 percent. As at The Red & Black, the print frequency reduction at The Cavalier Daily meant the organization would be creating a different product for readers. Rather than a daily newspaper, it would be publishing a print newsmagazine twice a week along with online news coverage. Thus, the organization’s full restructuring plan called for a print redesign from the existing 11” x 22 ¾”, broadsheet-style newspaper to a “tall tab” style tabloid of 11.25” x 14” dimensions. The purpose for this redesign was to match the print news product’s architecture to the style of content that would appear in print. Traditionally, the large dimensions of a broadsheet newspaper were best for displaying the multiple news stories of the day that publishers wanted readers to see. With websites, mobile apps, and social media replacing print news products as the optimal distribution mechanisms for daily news coverage, however, the expansive front-page real estate available in a broadsheet newspaper was no longer necessary. Instead, it was logical to adjust the architecture of the news product to showcase the central feature story of the issue rather than the four or five news stories that previously characterized a daily print newspaper. The main drawback to The Cavalier Daily’s redesign is that it threatens to erode even more of the newspaper’s advertising base. With less space in each issue, it is conceivable the newspaper could make less advertising revenue per issue. It may be possible to mitigate this through either printing additional pages to accommodate more ads or by charging higher rates for ads based on increased shelf life and additional use of color.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three

104  

The Cavalier Daily’s advertising data, however, indicates that it is in much the same position as The Red & Black: A substantial majority of its advertising clients buy space in only one issue per week. The organization verified with its largest national advertiser, re:fuel, that most of the agency’s clients only advertise once a week and would consolidate their ad buys into the two weekly print editions. This would mean the paper could attract roughly the same number of ads while cutting about 22 percent of its expenses. Complementing the organization’s print alterations were significant changes to its online approach. Predating the move to twice weekly print production was the website redesign that shifted the newspaper away from WordPress to a content management system (CMS) known as Gryphon. This CMS was developed in the newsroom of The State News at Michigan State University, which eventually began providing it to other college newspapers such as The Daily Tar Heel and The Daily Bruin at the University of California, Los Angeles. The Cavalier Daily contracted with State News, Inc., which owns The State News, for a website redesign and access to the Gryphon CMS. In addition, the contract stipulates that The State News information technology team will provide support for The Cavalier Daily website as long as the newspaper continues using Gryphon. This outsourcing of the responsibility for technological support of The Cavalier Daily’s web presence marked an important break with the organization’s history of managing its web presence in-house. The Cavalier Daily also created new staff positions dedicated to multimedia and social media for the first time in the organization’s existence. It announced plans to develop mobile apps and an email newsletter, as well, the latter of which launched in February 2013. These changes aim to provide both additional content and new mechanisms for delivering it to The Cavalier Daily’s target audience of students, faculty, and alumni.  

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Three The results of the restructuring will only be known after August 2013, but The

105  

Cavalier Daily faces many of the same opportunities and risks as other newspapers that have made similar shifts. If it saves more money in reduced printing costs than it loses in advertising, the organization will be on sounder financial footing for the future. Moreover, if staff are able to produce consistent and quality digital content then the organization might find that it gains greater attention from an audience that is increasingly tuned in to news and media content that is digital in nature. On the other hand, if the organization fails in implementing its new approach to advertising or content production then it could face insolvency or irrelevance.

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

106  

Chapter Four Managing Student Newspapers in the 21st Century
The information contained in the preceding chapters illustrates several different approaches to organizational structuring and business modeling at student newspapers. Each strategy has achieved varying levels of success in addressing the complicated issues of student autonomy, institutional memory loss, community relevance, and financial stability. This chapter will outline several suggestions for how student newspapers can improve their organizational structures and business models in order to better fulfill their two-fold mission as information sources for their communities and educational laboratories for their student members. Enhancing Organizational Structures Student newspapers should strive to fulfill three primary criteria when developing or revising their organizational structures. First, an effective organizational structure will preserve institutional memory across multiple years. This can be difficult to achieve in student newspaper settings where members graduate every four years, but it is nonetheless essential. Second, organizational structures must ensure that competent individuals consistently serve in decision-making roles. This is crucial both on the business and editorial sides of student media operations. Errors in the former area can doom an organization to insolvency or irrelevance with their audience, and failures in the latter can lead to very public losses of credibility and even lawsuits if inaccurate information is published. Third, student newspapers must be cognizant of their mission to provide training opportunities to their  

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four members when crafting their organizational structures. Training should encompass both content creation and media strategy, and it should prepare students to be editors and

107  

publishers in addition to reporters. This requires granting students greater responsibility than what they would possess as interns or staff members of other media organizations, and it necessitates the minimization of structural elements such as non-student leadership and university regulation that jeopardize student control of organizations’ content and strategic direction. The struggle in meeting these three criteria is that the first two conflict with the third. The best way to preserve institutional memory is the hiring of non-student professionals to direct certain aspects of organizational operations for several years. This also tends to increase the competency of high-level decision-makers within student newspapers — students are rarely as qualified as faculty or professionals for determining and executing editorial or business strategy. Unfortunately, this approach also reduces training opportunities for students in the realm of media management. Rather than empowering students to make the decisions that drive their newspapers, overreliance on professionals or faculty teaches student journalists how to follow instead of lead. This is dangerous at a time when up-andcoming journalists need business acumen and knowledge of media strategy in order to find innovative ways to sustain their own careers and the existence of the professional media outlets at which they will serve. To balance these competing objectives, student newspapers should organize themselves with professionals or faculty in supporting roles and students ultimately responsible for content and business decisions. Students should comprise a majority of a newspaper’s board and they should have the final say on editorial decisions in the newsroom.  

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four At the same time, faculty or professionals should serve as a minority on a student

108  

newspaper’s board and there should be at least one full-time professional working alongside student editors and managers to ensure consistency and competency in newsroom functions. In theory, Texas Student Media serves as a good model. The organization features a majority-student board, and The Daily Texan student newspaper includes student editors and a “weak” editorial advisor who is empowered to “review copy prior to publication only when requested by any staff member.”1 Thus, TSM maintains student control of its media enterprises while also providing for professional input into financial and editorial processes. Three of the 11 TSM Board members are faculty members, and another two are media professionals. Two of the three faculty members are from the College of Communication and the third is from the School of Business, meaning the Board features professors with both media and financial expertise. All voting members of the TSM Board also serve two-year terms, which are renewable for a maximum of four years. This arrangement helps correct for the instability of annual turnover in the student ranks of the constituent media entities. Perhaps even more importantly, Board members’ terms are staggered so that the terms of half the Board members expire on even years and the other half expire on odd years. This is meant to ensure the Board is never left without any experience within its membership. In practice, TSM has struggled to realize the potential benefits of its board structure. As of March 2013, seven of the 10 voting board members had less than six months of experience in their positions.2 This indicates that some board members are failing to serve the                                                                                                                
1 2

Texas Student Media, Handbook (Austin: January 22, 2007), 2-3.

Jordan Rudner, “Texas Student Media keeps paper daily but fails to address long-term concerns,” The Daily Texan, March 3, 2013, http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2013/03/03/texas-student-media-keeps-paperdaily-but-fails-to-address-long-term-concerns (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

109  

full length of their terms since the TSM Handbook establishes that no more than six board members should be replaced at any given time.3 In addition, the fact that there were only 10 voting members in March 2013 reveals that sometimes positions on the TSM Board go unfilled. Thus, institutional memory loss remains an issue even for TSM and the Texan. Even more crucial to the theoretical soundness of the TSM model is the director, who is a paid non-student staffer responsible for guiding the budgetary, personnel, and policy decisions of the constituent media properties. The TSM director not only brings professional expertise, but also historically has served as a long-term source of support and institutional memory for the student media within TSM. Before 2009, the four previous TSM directors served an average of 13 years.4 Just as TSM has been unsuccessful at maintaining consistency on its board, however, the organization has lately been unable to guarantee a stable presence in the role of director. There have been three directors in the four years since the retirement of Kathy Lawrence, who served as director for 15 years.5 Another major deficiency in the TSM model is that the organization is structured as an “auxiliary enterprise” of the University of Texas. Thus, TSM and its constituents are ultimately part of an entity — the university — that is the subject of most of its reporting.                                                                                                                
3 4

Texas Student Media, Handbook, 1-6.

Kathy McCarty, comment on “Student Media Board Huddles As Leader Controversy Continues,” Alcalde, comment posted February 28, 2012, http://alcalde.texasexes.org/2012/02/student-media-board-huddles-asleader-controversy-continues/ (accessed March 31, 2013).
5

Lawrence now goes by Kathy McCarty. For more information: Juana Summers, “Influential Student Media Director at U. Texas Steps Down,” College Media Beat, entry posted September 25, 2009, http://collegemediabeat.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/daily-texan-texas-student-media-director-steps-down-after15-years/ (accessed March 31, 2013); Kathy McCarty, comment on “Student Media Board Huddles As Leader Controversy Continues,” Alcalde, comment posted February 28, 2012, http://alcalde.texasexes.org/2012/02/student-media-board-huddles-as-leader-controversy-continues/ (accessed March 31, 2013); Megan Strickland, “Texas Student Media Board of Trustees to resolve internal issues,” The Daily Texan, February 27, 2012, http://dailytexanonline.com/news/2012/02/27/texas-student-media-board-oftrustees-to-resolve-internal-issues (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

110  

This creates an obvious conflict of interest for TSM Board members when appointing student editors. Because the university owns TSM’s assets and the university president appoints the five non-student Board members, there is an incentive for selecting editors more likely to support rather than oppose university policy. The elected student members of the Board and the elected editor-in-chief help to mitigate this concern, but it remains possible for the university administration to meddle in the editorial and financial affairs of TSM because of its ownership stake in the organization. It is worth noting that censorship has not proven to be a problem in recent years. The Texan, in particular, has done excellent reporting that has challenged powerful constituencies within the university. In February 2013, for example, the newspaper published a story about a letter it obtained through the Texas Public Information Act that revealed a university football coach had remained employed after engaging in “inappropriate, consensual behavior with an adult student” in 2009.6 To date, the newspaper has suffered no repercussions for this reporting. Similarly, it has offered robust coverage of the ongoing conflict between University President William Powers, Jr. and the Board of Regents. The Texan has not shied away from criticizing the regents despite their history of antagonism toward the newspaper, and the Editorial Board has published editorials with titles such as “Heart-ing Powers” and “Board of Regents, Supreme Leaders.”7                                                                                                                
6

Shabab Siddiqui, “Major’s mistake,” The Daily Texan, February 4, 2013, http://dailytexanonline.com/news/2013/02/04/co-offensive-coordinator-applewhite-engaged-in-inappropriatebehavior-with-a (accessed March 31, 2013).
7

Editorial Board, “Heart-ing Powers,” The Daily Texan, June 4, 2012, http://www.dailytexanonline.com/opinion/2012/06/04/heart-ing-powers (accessed March 31, 2013); Editorial Board, “Board of Regents, Supreme Leaders,” The Daily Texan, July 22, 2012, http://www.dailytexanonline.com/opinion/2012/07/22/board-of-regents-supreme-leaders (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

111  

Although concerns about editorial freedom have not been realized in recent memory, TSM’s connection to the university has created tension and turmoil in other ways. Specifically, the arrangement between TSM and the university blurs lines of accountability for staff. This became evident in February 2012 when Vice President for Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez forced former TSM Director Gary Borders to resign without consulting the TSM Board.8 It is unclear whether the procedure in forcing Borders’ resignation was proper since the only guidance provided in the Declaration of Trust is that “decisions regarding the employment status or discipline of any employee, editor, manager, editorial worker or staff member of the Student Media who is also an employee of the University shall require the prior written approval of the President of the University or his or her designee.”9 If Gonzalez was the president’s “designee,” then he was technically empowered to remove Borders unilaterally. The action went against the spirit of another provision in the Declaration of Trust, however, that requires the vice president for student affairs to participate in an annual performance review of the Director in consultation with two members of the TSM Board.10 A preferable organizational structure for student newspapers would marry TSM’s majority-student board with the truly autonomous corporate status of an organization such as The Red and Black Publishing Company, Inc. The latter organization is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit independent from the University of Georgia, and consequently its board

                                                                                                               
8

Ralph K.M. Haurwitz, “Director of UT student media unit quits under pressure,” Austin American-Statesman, February 16, 2012, http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/director-of-ut-student-media-unit-quits-underpres/nRkXg/ (accessed March 31, 2013).
9

Texas Student Media, Handbook, 8. Texas Student Media, Handbook, 8.

10

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

112  

of directors is solely responsible for financial, personnel, and policy decisions. Employees of The Red & Black, therefore, understand clearly to whom they are accountable. In addition, student newspapers should have at least one professional staff member who receives a salary and assists student staff with administrative responsibilities. Most organizations already have someone filling this role, such as Harry Montevideo at The Red & Black and Jalah Goette at Texas Student Media. Even The Cavalier Daily historically had a paid receptionist to provide support to the staff. The benefit of these full-time professionals is that they generally work with their student newspapers for years at a time, thereby improving institutional continuity and memory. Full-time paid professionals can maintain relationships with advertising clients, direct the implementation of multi-year strategic plans, and offer guidance about how to make decisions in accordance with organizational precedent. A student newspaper that opts for a non-student publisher or general manager should keep in mind two principles. First, the existence of the position must increase the organization’s profit margins. Even at non-profit groups such as student newspapers, it is necessary to generate enough money to pay for operating expenses and make long-term investments that will provide for future growth in the organization. One way to ensure the hiring of a professional achieves this goal is to establish a compensation structure with a modest base salary and the potential for significant performance bonuses. For example, a general manager could be hired at a base salary that adds 10 percent to an organization’s annual budget. If this individual were able to improve revenue intake by 15 percent over the baseline projection during a three-year period, then he would be eligible for a performance bonus worth 7.5 percent of the additional revenue at the end of year three. This structure would incentivize strong performance from the professional, which in turn would increase  

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

113  

the likelihood of the organization improving its net profit during the three-year period. If the professional achieved anything greater than a 10 percent revenue gain, then it would enhance the organization’s profit margin. Table 5. Performance-based compensation structure for a student newspaper professional
Baseline Year 1 2 3 Total With professional 1 2 3 Total $550 $518 $490 $1,558 $440 $440 $455 $1,335 Revenue (thousands) $500 $450 $405 $1,355 Expenses (thousands) $400 $400 $400 $1,200 Profit margin (thousands)

$155

$223

This is a rudimentary example of how a performance-based pay system could be used to make the hiring of a professional staff member profitable for student newspapers. There are many other variations upon this approach that also could succeed. It would be necessary, however, to craft careful editorial and advertising policies to control for potential risks inherent to a performance-based compensation structure. For example, the student-led board would have to set limits on the types of advertising and the substance of the content that could appear in the newspaper. Otherwise, the profit motive may push a general manager to sell advertising or encourage the publishing of content that jeopardizes the newspaper’s credibility. To see how easily this can happen, one need only consider the outcry against The Atlantic magazine for a piece of “sponsored content” it published about the Church of Scientology in January 2013. The “sponsored content” was an article praising Scientology  

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four and its leader David Miscavige, and readers complained about what amounted to a press release appearing alongside editorial content on the website of one of the nation’s most venerated publications.11 There is another important principle to keep in mind when establishing full-time, professional positions within student newspapers. Specifically, any professionals who are

114  

hired must be ultimately accountable to the students running an organization. This preserves an important level of student autonomy in determining their organization’s direction, since the professionals serve at the discretion of the students and not vice versa. In addition, steps should be taken to protect against interference from university administrations. Specifically, faculty members who serve on student newspaper staffs or boards should be tenured so their salaries and continued employment are not contingent upon pleasing university administrators. This will minimize the likelihood that they will push their newspapers toward producing more positive coverage of their universities in an attempt to curry favor. The University of Missouri used this approach when hiring its faculty Executive Editor Tom Warhover, and he indicated that it has insulated him from administrative pressure. Yet regardless of whether faculty staff or board members are tenured, they cannot comprise a majority of a newspaper’s leadership or hold executive positions such as publisher if the organization is to remain student-driven. For example, The Cavalier Daily publishes an annual expose featuring the salaries of all faculty and administrative figures at the University of Virginia who make more than $55,000. This can generate scrutiny upon

                                                                                                               
11

Josh Voorhees, “The Atlantic Yanks Scientology Advertorial After Outcry,” Slate, January 15, 2013, http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/01/15/the_atlantic_scientology_magazine_yanks_sponsored_conte nt_after_outcry.html (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

115  

professors who make significant amounts of money, and it is unlikely that faculty members — tenured or not — would want to continue such coverage of their peers. In fact, the same principle applies to the selection of student editors, managers and board members at student newspapers. Any student serving in such a leadership capacity should be accountable first and foremost to his staff and should have minimal ties to particular interest groups in the student community. Thus, The Cavalier Daily’s leadership structure during the mid-20th century was inadequate as it featured student board members whose primary occupations were as school vice presidents and Honor Committee members. This created an unhealthy conflict of interest, wherein those individuals were expected to be loyal to the same student government bodies about which The Cavalier Daily was expected to offer objective coverage. A better approach is to hold staff elections for board and editor positions, which is how The Cavalier Daily currently chooses its leaders. Although many student newspaper organizational structures include professional, non-student staff, there are alternative approaches that can improve institutional memory. For example, a staff historian could be hired to chronicle important editorial and business decisions, as well as the processes and historical circumstances that surrounded their making. The historian would then preserve that information and share it with future generations of staff leaders. Hiring a historian rather than a publisher or general manager would ensure that students themselves are able to make the day-to-day decisions that direct their organizations. At the same time, it would guarantee that students could make those decisions with the benefit of full knowledge of their organizations’ histories. This would allow students to adhere to precedent more consistently or establish new policies and procedures when current ones are found to stem from misguided or antiquated principles.  

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

116  

For organizations with few discretionary funds, the hiring of a historian rather than a publisher or general manager would offer another advantage. A historian could be a part-time employee who would be paid a lower salary than a full-time staff member. Historians would not have the same level of day-to-day involvement in newspaper operations, meaning they could hold other part-time jobs if needed. In addition, outsourcing can be a cost-effective approach for ensuring the competent execution of complicated or multi-year plans. This can be done if student newspapers are able to identify specific operational needs they are unable to fulfill with student staff and then outsource those aspects of their operations to other companies. In principle, this is no different than the long-time practice of contracting with private companies for printing and distribution services. Thus, a number of student media groups including The Red & Black and The Cavalier Daily have begun outsourcing the responsibility of designing and maintaining their websites. The Red & Black has also discussed the outsourcing of its mobile app development. The trend of outsourcing website maintenance follows a period in which many student newspapers attempted unsuccessfully to design and maintain their own websites inhouse. The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill switched to a custom-built Drupal website in summer 2009, and The Cavalier Daily began using a custom WordPress build around the same time.12 Within a year of its Drupal website launch, however, The Daily Tar Heel contracted with a private company known as Detroit Softworks

                                                                                                               
12

“Ch-ch-changes happen over the summer for college news web sites,” Innovation in College Media blog, entry posted August 27, 2009, http://www.collegemediainnovation.org/blog/2009/08/ch-ch-changes-happenover-the-summer-for-college-news-web-sites/ (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four for a redesign of its website and access to its content management system (CMS) and technical support services.13

117  

At the time, Detroit Softworks was a private company with a license for commercial use of the Gryphon CMS developed by Michigan State University’s The State News. About 15 student newspapers contracted with Detroit Softworks before the company abruptly went out of business in summer 2012.14 Detroit Softworks’ customers were transferred to The State News, Inc., which continued to provide the Gryphon CMS and associated hosting and technical support services using its part-student, part-professional technology staff. The Cavalier Daily, which was the final student newspaper to sign with Detroit Softworks before its failure, subsequently agreed to a new contract with The State News, Inc. for a website redesign and the use of the Gryphon CMS. The Cavalier Daily’s redesigned website was launched in September 2012, and since then The State News, Inc. has added at least one new client, The Daily Gamecock at the University of South Carolina.15 Other popular CMS providers include College Publisher, TownNews, School Newspapers Online, and Ellington CMS.16

                                                                                                               
13

“Daily Tar Heel moves to new CMS — again,” Innovation in College Media blog, entry posted July 6, 2010, http://www.collegemediainnovation.org/blog/2010/07/daily-tar-heel-moves-to-new-cms-again/ (accessed March 31, 2013).
14

“Detroit Softworks closes shop; SNworks takes over Gryphon,” Innovation in College Media blog, entry posted July 27, 2012, http://www.collegemediainnovation.org/blog/2012/07/detroit-softworks-closes-shop/ (accessed March 31, 2013).
15

Facebook post, SNworks, posted February 5, 2013, http://www.facebook.com/getsnworks/posts/412820398799677 (accessed March 31, 2013).
16

“Web options for college publications, 2012 edition,” Innovation in College Media blog, entry posted April 16, 2012, http://www.collegemediainnovation.org/blog/2012/04/hosting-options-for-college-publications-2012edition/ (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

118  

Using outsourcing to expand professional involvement in student newspapers has two primary advantages. First, it can often be done more cheaply than hiring a full-time professional. Rather than paying a salary that can be tens of thousands of dollars annually, contracting with a company such as The State News, Inc. enables organizations to obtain professional web design and IT services for a few thousand dollars in upfront costs and a few hundred dollars per month in recurring costs. In addition, contracting allows for a bettertargeted use of professionals in student newspaper operations. Signing with a company whose services are clearly delineated in a contract helps prevent the mission creep that can set in when professionals work within a student media organization for many years. Contractors generally do not seek to influence organizational decisions outside of what their services entail, meaning there is less of a threat to the student staff’s autonomy in making editorial and other policy decisions. In the realm of website development, some student media organizations are now beginning a counter-trend of insourcing their operations. The Daily Bruin at the University of California, Los Angeles became the most prominent example in early 2013, when it switched from Gryphon to using its own custom WordPress site. This is a logical development, however, because as student newspapers begin to place more emphasis on digital content they should be able to attract and retain students with greater technological skills. These students should then be able to complete the web design, hosting, and CMS maintenance tasks currently done by professionals. In short, student newspapers need organizational structures that balance the contradictory requirements of student autonomy and professional input. The best model is one in which students and non-students serve together on the board of directors, with the  

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four former having a numerical majority. This will allow student newspaper leaders to receive advice from professionals, whose perspectives are informed by years of experience in the media industry. Yet the students will retain ultimate control over their organizations’

119  

decisions, thereby offering them the most authentic educational experience in a “learning-bydoing” environment. Boards of directors should identify operational areas where students are underperforming and seek to expand professional involvement in those realms. For organizations with substantial resources, this could entail hiring a professional to work inhouse alongside students. A preferable solution in many cases, however, may be to outsource those operations to professionals elsewhere who can provide the services more cheaply until the student media organizations are able to undertake the work themselves. Alternatively, the hiring of a part-time staff historian can be done cheaply and can benefit the preservation of institutional memory in the student newspaper environment. Improving Business Models There is no single business model that will be optimal for every student newspaper in the United States. Differences in market size, market demographics, and organizational resources will affect the appropriate balance of print and digital, as well as paid versus unpaid content. Because student newspapers do not target a national audience in the same way as professional publications including USA Today, The New York Times, or The Wall Street Journal, the statistics included in reports such as the Pew News Consumption Survey must be augmented with data specific to individual campus markets. Therefore, this section

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

120  

will focus on providing a framework student newspapers should use for determining the best business model for their particular circumstances. Audience behavior is the first variable that a student newspaper needs to consider when deciding its business model. This variable may be very different for a student newspaper located on the campus of an elite university and a newspaper on the campus of a mid-tier university. A larger proportion of the student body at the elite university is likely to come from families with high socioeconomic status.17 Because upper-income individuals are more likely to read newspapers, the students whose families are high socioeconomic status are also more likely to have experienced print media during their youth.18 Therefore, those students might be more interested in print media products while in college because they would have formed the habit of reading newspapers during their pre-college years. This would make an elite university better suited than a mid-tier university for a daily newspaper. There is only one way student newspapers can know with certainty whether their audience desires a daily print publication: market research. The use of readership surveys oriented toward determining reader preferences is an important component of this approach, but even more essential is the collection of actual print newspaper pick-up rates. This allows student newspapers to see where and how often their print products are accessed, which can enable them to tailor their content according to reader habits. If organizations find that only a third of their print newspapers are read on most days, for example, then they should scale                                                                                                                
17

David Leonhardt, “Better Colleges Failing to Lure Talented Poor,” The New York Times, March 16, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/education/scholarly-poor-often-overlook-better-colleges.html (accessed March 31, 2013).
18

Pew Research Center, “The State of the News Media 2013,” Pew Research Center, http://stateofthemedia.org/2013/newspapers-stabilizing-but-still-threatened/16-newspaper-readership-correlatesto-higher-income-levels/ (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

121  

back their print frequency accordingly. Similarly, if they find that only certain distribution locations are accessed consistently then they should reallocate papers from the unpopular locales to the popular ones to increase their ability to reach readers. The only way to make these decisions about distribution frequency and location, however, is with accurate data acquired through repetitive surveying and measurement of pick-up levels. Until student newspapers can determine their actual readership levels, advertisers will continue to grow more skeptical about their ability to reach the 18-24 year-old audience through the print medium. This is because industry-wide data indicates a steadily decreasing number of college-age individuals read print newspapers. Although certain campuses may defy this trend, those institutions are bound to be the exception and not the rule. Therefore, student newspapers should work aggressively toward diversifying their revenue streams. This is necessary because even if newspapers reduce their print frequency and thereby trim the large variable costs of printing and distributing newspapers, they will still need to generate enough revenue to cover significant fixed costs such as rent and insurance. There are several ways that student newspapers can raise additional revenue using their existing organizational strengths. First, they can monetize digital products such as websites, email newsletters, and mobile apps by showing they are effective mechanisms for reaching their university audience members. This also depends upon effective data-gathering and market research, which can be used to show advertisers that newspapers are experiencing strong growth in their website visits, newsletter subscribers, social media followers, and app downloads. In addition, student newspapers should make use of their manpower to offer additional marketing services to their advertising clients. The Daily Emerald at the  

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

122  

University of Oregon, for example, now has a street team of students who can hand out fliers or coupon books that advertisers want distributed to the campus audience. In addition, the design staffs at student newspapers can create advertising copy for clients to use either in the newspaper’s own products or as standalone material that can be distributed through other channels such as mailings. The large pool of free or cheap labor at most student newspapers makes these types of direct marketing services potentially lucrative sources of revenue that could supplement traditional print advertising. Student newspapers can also raise funds by exploiting their status as 501(c)(3) nonprofits, which makes them eligible for tax-deductible donations and grant awards. They can improve their fundraising success through undertakings such as direct mailings and fundraiser dinners with well-known alumni of their universities. Certain professional media organizations such as ProPublica have been able to sustain themselves primarily through donations, and student newspapers with their own base of wealthy alumni and audience members ought to be able to emulate that model. Similarly, there are a variety of organizations that provide grants to media-related enterprises that provide community benefits. The Knight Foundation is the most obvious example, and it has already offered multimillion-dollar grants to the University of Miami and the University of Nebraska for journalism projects.19 Student media can compete for grants that are awarded by associations at their own campuses, as well. The Cavalier Daily, for example, obtained $20,000 from the U.Va. Parents Committee in October 2012 for the purpose of acquiring additional capital equipment and training to support an expansion of its digital content.                                                                                                                
19

“University of Miami Receives $3.5 Million From Knight Foundation,” Knight Foundation press release, February 13, 2007, http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/news/story.jhtml?id=169900002 (accessed March 31, 2013); Knight Foundation, “Journalism Dean’s Digital Fund,” Knight Foundation, http://www.knightfoundation.org/grants/20120100/ (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Chapter Four

123  

It is essential that student newspaper business models be oriented toward benefiting not only the organizations’ audiences, but also their student members. Even organizations that maintain robust print readership should be focused on expanding learning opportunities related to digital media for student staff. This is crucial because future journalists will need to be experienced with multimedia, social media, and blogging. No student newspaper can adequately fulfill the training component of its mission with a business model that still emphasizes print at the expense of these digital skills.

 

Cameron, The New News, Conclusion

124  

Conclusion
If there is a central conclusion to be drawn about student newspapers today, it is that their survival depends upon flexibility in the face of changing circumstances. Throughout history, student newspapers have confronted situations in which external and internal forces have demanded adaptation. The Daily Texan endured such a moment when its non-profit charter expired in 1971, forcing it to negotiate a new relationship with the University of Texas. The Cavalier Daily had to adjust after a standoff with the University of Virginia administration in 1979 made it clear the newspaper needed financial independence in order to preserve editorial independence. And in the present day, numerous student newspapers are reducing their print frequencies or turning to student fee subsidies in order to balance their budgets in an era with drastically reduced levels of print advertising revenue. Therefore, student newspaper leaders and staff must resist the idea that their organizations are bound to remain a particular way because of tradition. Consider the matter of daily print publication, a practice that many student newspapers now consider integral to their identities. The reality, however, is that student newspapers have only been daily during particular eras in their history. For example, the Harvard Crimson published for 12 years and The Daily Texan for 13 years before they became dailies.1 The Daily Collegian at Pennsylvania State University reduced print frequency from daily to weekly and semiweekly during World War II.2 Other newspapers only became true dailies publishing five                                                                                                                
1

Robert S. Sturgis, “Colorful Crimson History Began with Off-Color Magenta...,” Harvard Crimson, April 9, 1946, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1946/4/9/colorful-crimson-history-began-with-off-color/ (accessed March 31, 2013); Copp and Rogers, The Daily Texan: The First 100 Years, 12.
2

“Collegian History,” The Daily Collegian, http://www.collegian.psu.edu/pages/about-us/history.aspx (accessed March 31, 2013).

 

Cameron, The New News, Conclusion days per week in the decades following World War II. The Cavalier Daily made this

125  

transformation in 1972, meaning that it has only been a true daily during four decades of its 123-year history. This shows that publishing a daily print newspaper is not essential for fulfilling student newspapers’ mission, but rather is contingent on organizations having the funding, staff levels, and readership to sustain such an operation. Similarly, the levels of professional involvement in the production of student newspapers need to change according to circumstances. The Cavalier Daily, for example, featured no regular professional assistance until 1990. This was acceptable for many years because the newspaper received student fee subsidies that greatly supported its financial position. The steady stream of student fee revenue meant the newspaper did not need to focus closely on developing alternative revenue streams, and it provided a cushion in case students failed to secure advertising or committed errors in bookkeeping. When The Cavalier Daily lost its student fee subsidy upon becoming financially independent, however, it needed to hire a professional who could lend a consistent and trained hand to the newspaper’s business activities. This professional receptionist was present at the newspaper for 16 years, but in the seven subsequent years of complete student management the newspaper has struggled to handle its finances responsibly. In other words, it has tried and failed to adhere to a structure that was only appropriate in a different historical era in which the economic picture for print newspapers was vastly different than it is today. This illustrates the second main conclusion reached in this thesis. In order to understand what aspects of their organization are in need of change, student newspapers must have knowledge of their own histories. They also must study how their peers are coping with shared challenges. With knowledge of institutional history and contemporary best practices,  

Cameron, The New News, Conclusion

126  

student newspaper leaders can view their own organizations more objectively and correct for practices that have either outlived their usefulness or stem from long-forgotten mistakes. For example, a better understanding of institutional history might have allowed the Red and Black Publishing Company to identify when and why it stopped appointing students to its board of directors in defiance of its own bylaws. It then could have addressed this error before a staff walkout threatened The Red & Black’s ability to continue publishing. Similarly, The Daily Illini and The Daily Californian could use The Cavalier Daily’s history to understand the risks inherent in accepting student fee subsidies from their university administrations. Finally, The Cavalier Daily could turn to its own history and its peers to appreciate the fact that an all-student leadership structure is far from the only way to run a student newspaper in accordance with its mission. Ultimately, it is students themselves who will have to make the decisions about how to steer their newspapers in the coming years. If students have the opportunity and the courage to use their knowledge of institutional history and peer best practices to challenge assumptions about their campus newspapers, they may gain experience and insights that will allow them to lead professional newspapers through much-needed transformations of their own.

 

Cameron, The New News, Afterword

127  

Afterword
First, Professor Allan Megill deserves thanks for his stewardship of the Political and Social Thought Program this year. I also thank my advisor, Professor Bruce Williams, for pushing me to go the extra mile in the course of writing this thesis. Without his guidance, the finished product would have overlooked some very crucial details. I want to express my appreciation to everyone else who assisted with the preparation of this thesis. Thanks to Andy Rossback, Harry Montevideo, Jalah Goette, Tom Warhover, Steve Wells, Dusty Melton, Ann Brown, Siva Vaidhyanathan, and everyone else who took the time to answer my questions about their student newspapers. I only wish there were enough room to share all of the rich details and fascinating stories you relayed. I must also express my gratitude to Professor Michael Smith, who recruited me into the Political and Social Thought Program and supported me throughout my time as a student and an editor of The Cavalier Daily. There are a few other people close to me who merit special acknowledgment. I want to thank Anna Xie, my muse and best friend in the world, who has been a constant source of joy for me during my time at The Cavalier Daily and while writing this thesis. Finally, thanks to my family. Brian, I promise I’ll have time to hang out now. Mom and Dad, your love and support have meant so much to me throughout the years. Without your encouragement to always follow my dreams — both academic and extracurricular — this thesis never would have been possible. My love and gratitude to you cannot be put into words.

 

Cameron, The New News, Bibliography

128  

Bibliography
The Cavalier Daily. Cavalier Daily Constitution. Charlottesville, VA. The Columbia Missourian. “About the Missourian.” The Columbia Missourian. Accessed March 28, 2013. http://www.columbiamissourian.com/p/about/. Copp, Tara, and Robert L. Rogers. The Daily Texan: The First 100 Years. Austin, TX: Eakin Press, 1999. The Curators of the University of Missouri, and Missourian Publishing Association. Affiliation Agreement. Columbia, MO. The Daily Collegian. “Collegian History.” The Daily Collegian Online. Accessed March 28, 2013. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/collegianInfo/history.aspx. Editorial Board. “Editorial.” Editorial. The Free Lance (University Park), April 1, 1904, XVIII ed. Accessed March 28, 2013. http://digitalnewspapers.libraries.psu.edu/Default/Skins/collegian/Client.asp?skin=collegi an&AppName=2&AW=1364522042230. Gaston, Paul M. Coming of Age in Utopia: The Odyssey of an Idea. Montgomery: NewSouth Books, 2009. Godwin, Mike. “The Daily Texan Does Not Belong to You (But It Used To).” UTmost, October 1987. McClure, S.S., ed. A History of College Journalism. Chicago: Orville Brewer &, Publishers, 1882. Montevideo, Harry. "Fwd: Two Items for You." E-mail message to author. November 5, 2012. Morris, Willie. North Toward Home. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967. Newspaper Association of America. Advertising expenditures: Annual (All Categories). March 14, 2012. Raw data. Arlington, Va. Pew Research Center. Americans Spending More Time Following the News. Report. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center, 2010. Pew Research Center. In Changing News Landscape, Even Television Is Vulnerable. Report. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center, 2012.  

Cameron, The New News, Bibliography

129  

Schudson, Michael. "Discovering the News: The Revolution in American Journalism in the Age of Egalitarianism: The Penny Press." In Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers, 12-60. Basic Books, 1978. Smith, Aaron. "Cell Internet Use 2012." A Majority of Adult Cell Owners (55%) Now Go Online Using Their Phones. June 26, 2012. Accessed December 9, 2012. http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Cell-Internet-Use-2012/Main-Findings/CellInternet-Use.aspx. Texas Student Media. Handbook. Report. Austin, TX, 2007. Texas Student Media. "TSM History." About TSM. Accessed March 29, 2013. http://www.utexas.edu/tsm/about/. Vaidhyanathan, Siva. Interview by author. January 23, 2013. Warhover, Tom. Telephone interview by author. February 20, 2013. Wells, Steve. Telephone interview by author. January 29, 2013. Winkie, Luke. "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" The Austin Chronicle, May 11, 2012. Accessed March 31, 2013. http://www.austinchronicle.com/music/2012-05-11/whats-thefrequency-kenneth/.