Editorial: Continuing the mission of #SaveStudentNewsrooms

Last year, The Daily Northwestern joined the national #SaveStudentNewsrooms campaign in support of all independent student newsrooms across the country.

Our colleagues 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 that 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, an independent newsroom, joined in this campaign along with many other student newsrooms around the country to show support for student newsrooms and student journalism.

A year after joining the movement, we continue to understand and promote the importance of independent student news organizations, especially on college campuses. Every day, as student newsrooms are at risk of becoming dissolved or reaffiliated with universities, we also continue to understand our privilege as a news organization that is not under control of Northwestern in any way. We are editorially independent, and not subject to censorship.

The Students Publishing Company board supports The Daily’s operations, though it does not interfere with editorial decisions we make. The board oversees alumni donations, the purchase of newsroom supplies and serves as an advisory board if the newsroom needs advice — particularly on ethical and legal matters. The existence of the board makes it possible for our newsroom to be entirely run by students, a privilege many newsrooms are at risk of losing as they experience a decrease funding, resulting in papers shutting down or dissolving.

While we’ve won various awards over the years, we value our freedom as an independent newsroom more. We see the power of a group of students, unaffiliated with the University and not subject to censorship, bringing the news that we believe is most important to the Northwestern community. Naming problems around us is the first step in bringing about and seeing concrete change.

By covering issues and events around campus that may otherwise go underreported or unnoticed, we hope to increase awareness of problems that the Northwestern community faces. From writing to multimedia storytelling to investigative reporting, we hope to support a multitude of different avenues through which our journalists can magnify a range of diverse voices.

Stories and articles produced for The Daily have drawn awareness to issues and inequalities on campus and in Evanston. In 2018, Ally Mauch, then an assistant web editor, wrote an In Focus story about student and faculty efforts to diversify the music curriculum in Bienen, which often only includes white and male composers and performers. When he was the Video Editor, Christopher Vazquez created a video documentary about transgender students struggling to find gender-open housing options on campus. Colin Boyle and Ryan Wangman wrote about residents of the 5th Ward in Evanston fighting for a neighborhood school in the only ward without one, which happens to also have highest percentage of black residents.

We’re still working on stories that are crucial to understanding inequality and injustice, both on campus and beyond, in hopes of bringing a level of awareness to every resident and student. We aren’t flawless, but we are still actively working to improve our coverage and our content, and there are so many more important stories that still need to be told.

Joining the #SaveStudentNewsrooms movement, a year later, still holds a great deal of meaning for us. Producing journalism that impacts this campus and beyond is only possible with the generosity of alumni, and as our print advertising revenue has seen a drop in the last few years, our future as an independent student newsroom is not certain.

Daily staffers have gone on to be well-known journalists, producers and industry members, but more importantly, they’ve gone on to be better reporters and people once they leave. People should support the freedom and the empowerment that comes with student journalism, and the impact that independent student newsrooms have on communities. Looking forward, The Daily hopes to continue its status as an independent student newsroom that brings the most crucial and accurate content to its community. This isn’t possible without public support and donations.

Students matter, and student journalism matters.

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.