Should Student Press Have Covered Obama Inauguration?

The Villanovan, the daily student newspaper at Villanova University, in my beloved hometown of Philadelphia, Pa., USA, did not provide a lot of coverage of the Obama Inauguration.  Some readers complained.  Editors responded, in an intriguing editorial headlined “The Role of a College Newspaper“:

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The Villanovan is and always has been the student paper of Villanova, not a national newspaper. There are four complimentary national papers on campus; students should turn to these for daily coverage. When you want to read about Villanova and students’ reactions and reflections, though, we’re your paper. In fact, we’ve recently tried to refine our coverage areas. In the past two years, we’ve eliminated our World News and “Around the Big 5” sections to sharpen our focus.

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A campus news media outlet should first focus on its home campus, no question.  This Villanovan editorial raises two wonderful related questions, however: Is there ever any value in covering news beyond campus?  And how is that determination of value made?

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The Villanovan‘s two main keep-it-on-campus points strike me as reasonable:

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1) Just because you have the staff/resources to cover off-campus events and issues doesn’t mean you should.  Instead, figure out how to use those surplus staff/resources to increase the depth, breadth, and quality of your campus coverage.

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2) Journalism, more than ever, is a niche industry.  No one is better positioned and impassioned to record the inner-workings and significant issues of specific schools and specific campuses than the student media.  Let other media cover events and issues transpiring off-campus, since that is their focus (and frankly something they often do better).  As the V-editorial noted: “Every time alumni call or e-mail to ask for archived copies of The Villanovan, they remind us of the need for unbiased, accurate accounts of Villanova’s history”  (i.e. they’re not asking for info on what was happening at the time in greater Philly or worldwide- they have other news outlets for that).

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But of course, the question remains: Don’t some just-plain-seminal moments (such as prez inaugurations) deserve the out-the-wazoo coverage that they receive seemingly everywhere else?  J-students, tell your profs: This screams in-class ethical discussion!

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What do you think?

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  1. […] Read the rest here: Should Student Press Have Covered Obama Inauguration? « College … […]

  2. […] College Media Matters weighs in here. […]

  3. […] The statements are intriguing for what the candidates agree and disagree about.  Agree: College Media Network (formerly College Publisher) is bad and student media need their own individual Web sites.  Disagree: Whether a campus newspaper should cover or steer clear of off-campus issues (a debate recently jumpstarted by The Villanovan). […]