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The job of a campus newspaper is to report university news in a timely, accurate, fair and impartial manner. But lately, the Student Government Association and others at Newman University, a private Catholic college in Wichita, don’t seem to think so.
For the past few months, “The Vantage,” NU’s campus newspaper another Division II school, has been under fire from its student organizations and individual students for minute mistakes and claims that the newspaper is something they are “not proud of.”
First, the student government vigorously questioned the coverage of a story about their purchase of crucifixes for the school.
A few weeks ago, several anonymous Samaritans shoved newspapers with minute typos and mistakes in “The Vantage” office door. Then, at a town hall meeting, which allows students at NU to bring up concerns and suggestions to the school’s cabinet, including the president, questions about the school newspaper were brought up. One of these inquired, “‘The Vantage’ consistently reports erroneous information and is full of grammatical and spelling errors. Does NU fund and/or advise this? What can be done to create a paper that students can be proud of?”
As fellow university journalists, we want to emphasize that college journalism is a hard task to undertake. Not only do we balance classes, homework and other student organizations, but sometimes we stay in the office well past when the buildings close. What we do by necessity is very public – our names are attached to our stories, photos, columns and designs. Journalists are one of the few groups in which students are learning in the public eye. In journalism, your teacher isn’t the only one who sees your mistakes on an assignment. The entire campus can see it in print. We’re students, too.
College journalism is increasingly more difficult if your school doesn’t have a journalism major, as both ESU and NU only offer minors. NU’s newspaper staff consists of 13 people – 7 editors and 6 staff writers. Like The Bulletin, they put out a weekly, eight-page newspaper – and we have twice the staff. None of their employees are paid more than approximately $2.15 an hour, and that’s only the editors. Staff writers are not paid at all. That, to us, is a feat in itself.
It is disheartening that a student body would try to tear down an organization, rather than build it up. The Bulletin experienced a similar matter two years ago when a petition was made to abolish us. Anyone can have strong opinions about negative things, but what about positive things that newspapers do for colleges, including letting the students have their own voice? We are here to serve you. Almost always, your college newspaper reports accurately, but that tends to be overlooked.
What we suggest to students who are concerned at NU is the same thing that we suggested to students who were concerned about the credibility of The Bulletin two years ago: 1. Let the school paper know if something is factually incorrect. Newspapers are more than happy to run corrections. 2. Join the staff yourself and help us make our papers better! 3. Remember that it is only our job to report on campus happenings, not to be a cheerleader for our universities.
So, hats off to you on “The Vantage” staff. We applaud your ability to report in a timely and precise manner. We understand that sometimes it’s hard to keep your sanity while balancing a newspaper and schoolwork. And you do a phenomenal job of both.