From Joey Cranney: ‘Consider it a loss for you and your community’ if student newspapers fold

joey cranney

Name: Joey Cranney

College newspaper: The Temple News (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Where I am now: Government reporter at The Post and Courier

It’s time for the public to stop underestimating student newsrooms. Rather, they should be embraced for their opportunity to expose wrongdoing in overlooked communities.

I worked for The Temple News at Temple University, starting as a freshman sports reporter in 2010 and graduating in 2014 as the paper’s editor-in-chief. The Temple News is not just a student newspaper — it’s a century-old institution for the largest university in the country’s fifth most populated city.

At the top of the front page, the paper’s motto reads, “A watchdog for the Temple University community since 1921.” That community includes Temple students, faculty, alumni, as well as the residents of North Philadelphia.

For loyal Temple News readers, it should come as no surprise that the paper’s student journalists in recent weeks have reported extensively on concerns from those residents regarding the university’s proposal to build a football stadium in the middle of their neighborhood.

The Temple News has long highlighted local issues that otherwise might not get coverage.

During my tenure as the top editor, we reported on a track & field coach whose verbal abuse led to depression and suicidal tendencies among his athletes. We detailed the challenges that students with mental health issues face on a campus with a lack of counseling resources.

And years before the public uprising against accused rapist Bill Cosby, Temple’s most famous alum, one of our columnists called out the university for promoting Cosby’s image despite years of sexual assault allegations.

Most notably, on our editorial page, we aggressively criticized the university’s most powerful officials, Temple’s Board of Trustees, and exposed the cloak of secrecy they often hide behind.

We were amateurs, but indisputably, this was journalism. And like all good local journalism, it was emboldened by a desire to improve the community where we lived and worked.

To be sure, The Temple News benefited from a certain degree of privilege. A well-functioning advertising department funded our operations. That kept us independent from the university and kept administrators from pressuring us (for the most part) when we wrote something they didn’t like.

Most of the paper’s editors were paid a small weekly salary. Reporters were paid $10 per article.

Many student newsrooms aren’t as lucky. In the worst cases, they’re cutting staff, trimming content or facing threats from university leadership.

If your alma mater has a student newspaper that’s in danger of folding, you shouldn’t consider the issue as a potential loss for the university’s journalism program. You should consider it a loss for you and your community.

From Cody Nespor: ‘I am afraid that future students might lose out on that opportunity.’

cody nespor

Name: Cody Nespor

College newspaper: The Rocket (Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania)

When I joined The Rocket’s staff to years ago we printed one 16 page issue every week for the whole academic year. The next year we had to cut down to 10 issues for the whole year because we were losing so much money printing and our Student Government Association was not willing to continue making up the difference between printing costs and what we were making in selling ads. Because we didn’t lose as much money as the previous year, SGA approved the paper a 7% budget increase for this year. We decided to stay at 10 issues for the year just to be safe. However, while we aren’t spending as much as we used to we are also not making as much. In order to maintain independence from the university, we recently decided that our best course of action would be to converge with our on-campus TV station so we can combine our budgets and also share our talent. Being a small school we have a 13 person newspaper staff. All positions are paid, but not a lot, ranging from $100-$500 monthly. Working for the student newspaper allowed me to find my passion and now with a shortage of funds and waning student interest I am afraid that future students might lose out on that opportunity.