Student newspapers across the country face a host of issues, ranging from a lack of autonomy to public outcries of quasi inaccurate journalistic practices to desperate budgetary circumstances. This is the third year in a row that student newsrooms have come together to vocalize these problems and ask for your help.
Berkeley community members and UC Berkeley students rely on The Daily Californian for valuable information — as an example, we will focus specifically on the current pandemic, though the Daily Cal has been a well of information on topics ranging from elections to protests to movie screenings to the Big Game. While other local newspaper outlets also offer breaking information to community members, most fail to thoroughly report or advocate for students. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Daily Cal has continually updated on testing policies, online education and in-person class statuses, along with our vehement advocacy for partial refunds. All of that is on top of our coverage of state policies, protective equipment shortages and local businesses. We cover the communities that we are nestled in, but student newsrooms have the added burden of covering the universities just as thoroughly.
Student newsrooms are functioning in precarious conditions and they desperately need your support. The California Aggie, UC Davis’ student-run newspaper, lacks autonomy in selecting a new editor-in-chief and must rely on the heavily absent UC Davis Media Board for governance. Last year, The Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student-run newspaper, went on strike to call for autonomy and independence. The perception of the college newspaper as an ominous force rather than an asset illustrates just the beginning of censorship efforts. Although the Daily Cal doesn’t face these same autonomy problems, we sympathize with our fellow newsrooms who face similar issues.
Student newsrooms are a valuable training ground for aspiring journalists, creators and thinkers, giving way to conversations about how reporting can evolve. In November 2019, The Daily Northwestern suffered public backlash regarding an apology it posted for invasively covering student protesters. Instead of commending the students for their sincere efforts to rectify the situation or engaging in further dialogue about covering marginalized groups, professionals attacked their journalistic integrity. These public condemnations highlight the vulnerabilities of student newsrooms that we have to push through to continue providing essential services — student journalists are unquestioningly deserving of the resources necessary to continue reporting and training.
The Daily Cal marks the humble beginning for a variety of professional journalists. As the city of Berkeley’s paper of record, our staff is uncovering stories no one else is reporting on and overcoming boundaries, all while simultaneously working under shelter-in-place orders and on their degrees. So, browse through our online content and while you’re here, please consider helping to #SaveStudentNewsrooms.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by the spring 2020 opinion editor, Simmy Khetpal.