Cover, Opinion, Staff Editorial

#SaveStudentNewsrooms

At The Miami Hurricane, we work long hours, break difficult stories and scramble to deliver deadline after deadline – and we’re the lucky ones. At least we get the chance to do it.

Our peers, in the student newsrooms across America, are not always so fortunate.

Schools with student bodies four times our size have seen their student publications fall to the wayside. If they’re not defunded altogether, they’re absorbed into the school’s communication curriculum, their editorial independence quashed in the process.

Our journalism professors are amazing allies and educators – but their work is wasted if we don’t get a chance to practice what they preach outside of the classroom, where we’re truly free to succeed and fail – and learn the difference – on our own.

There’s no real way to balance unbiased reporting with an institution’s self-interest, and we would never ask a school to try.

What we are asking, instead, is for a commitment to the work student journalists do. A recognition of their role on campus and a place to practice it. At TMH, our physical newsroom is a center of conversation, learning, camaraderie and – for many – the first place we truly get a sense of the professional world of journalism.

Like any other student-run organization, campus newspapers should have the ability to come together and carry out their mission – to have their work be supported, without being controlled. Though we often hear that “anybody with a smartphone can be a journalist,” we know the benefits of belonging to an organization: accountability to a code of ethics, for one, and the group’s ability to work against potential biases in reporting.

But why should you care? A threat to student newsrooms is a threat to students everywhere. By attacking journalism at a collegiate level, schools remove from their students the ability to become familiar with how an independent press works, to learn the difference between news sources and public relations sites disguised as news providers.

So in a movement spearheaded by journalists at the Independent Florida Alligator, we’re asking for your help to #SaveStudentNewsrooms. We want other schools to share the same comfort of funding and editorial independence that we’ve been able to enjoy at TMH. Here, at least, no one gives the OK on our work but us.

Even if you never plan to work at a paper, you can still help the cause. Read the work of student journalists – share it, if you like it – and be wary of programs, institutions and budget cuts that threaten its survival. You don’t need to be a journalist to reap the benefits a free press affords.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

April 24, 2018

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.