Editorial: The Daily Northwestern joins national #SaveStudentNewsrooms campaign

Across the country, newspaper staffs struggle to find a business model that makes print journalism a sustainable practice. This problem affects publications large and small, and student newspapers are no exception.

The Daily Northwestern is proud to join the national #SaveStudentNewsrooms campaign to protect the future of independent student newsrooms across the country.

Our friends at the University of Florida’s The Independent Florida Alligator launched this campaign in support of The Daily Campus, the student newspaper at Southern Methodist University. Earlier this year, SMU’s student media board voted to shut down the company running the newspaper. This means the once-independent publication will now have to affiliate with the University to continue publishing, making it susceptible to administrative censorship.

We at The Daily are lucky to function independently from Northwestern and Evanston, and we hope to maintain this separation for decades to come. However, we must acknowledge that we are in a privileged position among our peer institutions. Other student newspapers have faced cuts in days of publication or, like in the case of The Daily Campus, the loss of editorial independence.

Student journalism, much like journalism at the national and international scale, demands transparency from people in power and keeps readers informed and engaged. Moreover, student newspapers serve as invaluable ways for young journalists to harness skills they can later apply to work at professional publications. This is why we must fight to keep student newspapers well-funded and independent from their universities.

Though long gone are the days when print copies of The Daily were our primary form of engagement, we continue to inform our community via multimedia platforms on top of printing a vital source of news for Evanston residents. We are not a perfect publication, but we strive to keep Evanston and NU in the know. We love the work we do and the people we work with, but we recognize that the future of our newsroom is not guaranteed.

Our print advertising revenue has decreased significantly over the last several years, and while we have adopted new ways of advertising online, this method alone is not enough. Donations help us maintain a daily print newspaper while continuing to experiment with new platforms and ways to engage with our audience. We’ve expanded our multimedia reporting and social media outreach, launched a monthly arts and entertainment insert for in-depth stories and sent reporters to cover events on campus, in Evanston and beyond — but we won’t be able to maintain such efforts without support.

We are lucky enough to have a supportive network of alumni and a publisher whose board has launched a campaign for the future of The Daily, but we worry about our capacity to continue providing real-world training for future generations of aspiring reporters, photographers and designers.

The Daily, like numerous other student publications, has served as a training ground for many professional journalists. We are proud of the reporters who got their first bylines on our pages; it is our hope to continue producing journalism that impacts this campus, and journalists with the potential to one day tackle some of the biggest stories affecting our world. To do this, we need your support and your faith in us. We know there is a lot we can improve on, but we remain committed to making the changes necessary for our newsroom to be more accessible to our student body.

This piece represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of The Daily Northwestern. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members or Editorial Board members of The Daily Northwestern.