Journalism is not dead, if anything, it is alive and well – flourishing in the thought that it is making a difference and impacting the minds and actions of our future leaders. Being a student journalist is the opportunity to give a platform to the voices that need it, to the students who have stories, and the social issues that need to be discussed.
April 26 was “Save Student Newsrooms” day because the reality is, many people do not understand the impact that college newspapers have on the student body and the public. College news organizations all over the country are losing funding and being forced to cut staff, rely on online publication, and hope alumni donate to keep their stories viable. Closer to home, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse is instituting a choice in future years for students to opt out of segregated fees for organizations they do not belong to or utilize.
This process was denied at a Student Association meeting April 7, 2017 because, “The removal of this ‘opt-out’ from the budget will save many student organizations from being either reduced in funding or cut altogether and allow the student bus service to continue being funded, amongst dozens of other crucial programs and services on the campus” (uwlax.edu).
As a college student, I understand wanting to save money wherever possible and some segregated fees are an annoyance but if we allow students to opt out of segregated fees that promote the wellness of our student organizations such as the student newspaper then we are telling them that the freedom of the press does not matter, and neither does their voice.
Current Editor-in-Chief of The Racquet, Destiny Baitinger said, “The Racquet will see a hit in budgets if students opt out of segregated fees. I personally wouldn’t just be giving my tuition dollars to The Racquet, I would continue to give to all orgs because as I find value in my org, I equally value others’ organizations and interests as well. They all have purpose. I hope students remember that someone else might be pouring money into their organizations while they may not be reciprocating that aid if they opt out.”
We need student newspaper publications because we need student’s voices. No one can represent the student body better than those who are presenting the facts and stories of our campus.
Noah Finco, Managing Editor of The Racquet said UWL students need to care because this is news by UWL students for UWL students, “We are not a mouthpiece for UWL Administration, UWL leadership has been explicitly clear on that. We are free to report on issues that affect and matter to us as a staff, which in turn, are issues that matter to you.”
Freedom of the press is essential to maintain a stream of communication across campuses and communities. Students need a platform to tell their stories and express the pertinent issues occurring on campus that impact each and every one of us, even if we do not see the connection.
Lei Zhang, advisor of The Racquet said the work the organization does on campus is needed in many ways. Zhang said, “No matter what happens with student fees, I hope the newspaper can at least keep the current funding level because the newspaper is not only an important information source and a voice for our students, but also a good training ground for students interested in journalism.”
With the current state of the nation the truth is more important than ever. Supporting your local news organizations not only supports their passions and interests but overall encourages an honest atmosphere, and a community that believes and promotes the freedom of the press.
The Washington Post developed a slogan in 2017, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” As far as journalism goes, if we diminish student journalism then we encourage a society where citizens do not have power and the system of government is at sole control. If we support freedom of the press, then we support democratic conversations that will not die behind closed doors but thrive in the idea that there is a story to be told. The Racquet will continue to tell it.