Photo by Ridge Peterson ’21 | Communities across the country might start turning to student publications as one of the only sources of news.
By Ridge Peterson ’21
Many local news organizations have been closing down or merging in large numbers over the past ten years. In some communities, student-run newspapers are being left as the only daily or monthly publications available.
According to research done by the University of North Carolina, the United States has lost nearly 1,800 local newspapers since 2004. In the same report, it was found that nearly 200 counties in the U.S. have no local paper now, and about half of the counties only have one.
The southwest also registered at the top of the list of counties without papers. And with many rural areas, it is less likely to see digital media fill the gap.
This problem leaves hundreds of thousands of people with no professional news sources and nothing to fill that gap in many rural areas.
This, in turn, leaves student newspapers with the heavy burden of not only informing its students but also the people of its community.
Recently, student reporters across the country have been filling in for local news by breaking important stories and causing change in large organizations. Such as the 2013 article in which a student reporter at George Washington University revealed that the school had been dishonest with their admissions policy, which made national news.
More recently, The State Press journalist, Andrew Howard ’17 broke the news about the resignation of the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine in Arizona State University’s student newspaper, an article that gained international attention.
Cases like these are becoming more commonplace now with a growing hunger for news and information in the public while some communities still lack reporting.
Even in “news deserts”, communities that no longer have daily newspapers, there are usually still students. Where there are students there can be student publications which is leading the casual news writer for a student newspaper to soon be the only source of news for the thousand or so people in their community.
And with a growing number of communities at risk to soon become news deserts students will have to take a bigger role. With student journalists having to take the role of full-time journalists, it also presents many unique challenges for them.
One is the struggle of balancing school and journalism. It could be hard for students to balance having to take on the role of a full-time journalist and also maintain all other school work.
In an interview with The New York Times, Katherina Sourine, a University of Michigan senior and one of The Michigan Daily’s reporters, said that “If we weren’t covering it, no one would know what’s going on”. While having to provide news for all the people in your community it can be challenging for students.
“It’s really hard to take time out of my day, especially when breaking news hits. But a lot of people rely on us to stay informed, not only students,” Sourine said.
Even with online news and media, without many student-run publications, communities across the country would be at a much greater lack of knowledge.
This is why students across the country must take to their school newspapers and pick up from the loss of professional publications.