If you don’t help #SaveStudentNewsrooms, nobody will

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Phillip Downey/File

Today, student journalists across the nation speak with one voice. Years of salary cuts, budget reductions and censorship attempts have left us with no choice. Today, we call upon our readers, alumni and supporters to help us #SaveStudentNewsrooms.

In Berkeley, particularly, the power of student journalism reverberates through Old City Hall’s council chambers and into every aspect of city life.

Who can forget, for example, that it was student journalists at Berkeley High School who first broke the story that local landlord Lakireddy Bali Reddy and his family were importing young women from India to work as sex slaves? That story led to the Berkeley High Jacket’s staff being awarded the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists’ highest honor, Journalist of the Year — the first time a nonprofessional journalist or staff won the award.

At the university level, student journalists have taken to breaking the most pressing academic stories of the day, even as professional papers increasingly cut back on education coverage because of layoffs. Across the country, it was university newspapers that led the charge against sexual misconduct, forcing much of academia to reckon with its own #MeToo movement. Here in Berkeley, reporters from The Daily Californian proved that sexual misconduct throughout the UC system — and a culture of underpunishing perpetrators — was systemic, using documentation and data found through multiple California Public Records Act requests.

Despite all this, student papers are experiencing a period of contraction. Across the country, advertising revenues continue to decrease, and financial struggles force many to sacrifice their print editions and independence. In fact, the Independent Florida Alligator at the University of Florida started the #SaveStudentNewsrooms movement after Southern Methodist University’s student-run newspaper, the Daily Campus, announced it would reaffiliate with its university.

Worse still are the efforts by campus authorities to suppress the work of student journalists — such as when Western Kentucky University sued the College Heights Herald last year after the Kentucky attorney general ruled that the school had to turn over Title IX records to the paper.

Already, student papers often operate under constraints that would be untenable in the professional world. The vast majority of the Daily Cal’s staff tirelessly works countless hours for free, volunteering valuable time and often sacrificing grades, social experiences and more to serve our readers and tell Berkeley’s story.

This movement goes beyond just the fair and impartial reporting that student papers lend to their communities. The halls of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed News, NPR and more are filled to the brim with journalists who got their start at student papers — they now hold the country’s most powerful and rich accountable. Without a healthy ecosystem of independent student newspapers, the future of a national press that keeps Washington and countless state capitals liable for their words and actions is imperiled.

The Daily Cal has proudly been independent from UC Berkeley since 1971, when we broke from the campus. We’ve trained thousands of journalists over the years, including some who just won Pulitzer Prizes for reporting on Russian interference in the 2016 election and for covering the Santa Rosa wildfire.

So read our stories and stay informed. Pick up our print edition at one of our hundreds of convenient rack locations. Link and share our content on social media. Engage with our coverage by submitting a letter to the editor or an op-ed. Donate to us. Join our membership program. Tell a friend how vital the Daily Cal is to your everyday life.

With your help, we’ll continue fighting the good fight, and together, we can save student newsrooms.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

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  • stop trying to foist student fees on us when you dont submit to asuc governance

  • Killer Marmot

    For typical newspapers, if you don’t like the views expressed then you don’t buy the newspaper.

    But student newspapers have always presented an ethical problem. They are normally funded by the student government from fees collected from the students, which are almost always mandatory. But the newspapers often have a political slant that many students find abhorrent. More specifically, the newspapers are usually strongly progressive. Some of them even refuse to publish any articles taking a conservative view, which the more radical editors regard as hate speech.

    The bottom line is that conservative students are often forced to pay to promote views they strongly disagree with. That seems wrong.

  • Killer Marmot

    Student newspapers should abandon their print editions. It’s an unnecessary expense in this age.

  • That Guy

    you are getting far more than you deserve now.

  • lspanker

    If the assumed “student journalists” at the Daily Cal actually showed any intellectual curiosity in thoroughly investigating news stories before printing unsubstantiated rumors and hearsay, developed the sophistication to identify the difference between news stories and editorial pieces, select columnists on their ability to speak intelligently on issues of substance instead of slavishly catering to the latest Politically Correct fad, and at least made SOME attempt to cover stories with an objective, even-handed approach, some of us alums might be willing to kick in something. Until then, forget it – this paper is nothing more than an electronic rag, full of half-baked reporting, embarrassing op-ed rantings, and nothing but a showcase for the nuts, flakes, and looney-toons who through some malignant mutation of the admissions process managed to wind up in Berkeley and on the DC staff…

    • lspanker

      Oh, and here’s another suggestion, kiddies, if you want some support: stop flagging and removing comments that do NOT violate your stated Terms and Conditions, but merely express opinions you don’t like but can not rebut in an intelligent manner. That type of tactic merely shows that you’re not adult enough to engage in a two-day discussion.

      • TNT

        Damn right on all points made in your two comments.

      • Jesse Gilbert

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