Exclusive Interview with College News Network Founders

Ryan Dunn and Dave Hendricks are the co-founders of college media’s very own CNN. College News Network is a nationwide student press content-sharing service that the Ohio University duo launched very recently in the wake of UWIRE’s sudden disappearance.

The talented Scrippsters graciously chatted with CMM about the the basic gist of their service, their longterm goals, and their thoughts on their once-domineering, now-dormant chief competitor.  The buzzwords that stand out: nonprofit, necessity, and GoDaddy.

  

Dave Hendricks, a Scripps journalism student from Connecticut who once climbed Ayers Rock.

Ryan Dunn, a Scripps journalism student from Lancaster, Pa., whose favorite movie is "Bait Shop" with Bill Engvall and Billy Ray Cyrus.

What motivated you to start College News Network?

Ryan: We started College News Network out of necessity. I manage the opinion page of The Post, and when our well of letters dried up, we would pull a column from UWIRE. If local content isn’t an option, we still need something to put on the page.  Now, it’s a bit trickier for us, and most editors are probably in the same boat. UWIRE went under at the end of September. We quickly e-mailed a few other Ohio student papers in hopes of sharing columns and the occasional breaking news. It expanded to an actual Web site with 27 student papers from across the country on board.

Explain the service in a simple nut graf.

Ryan: Every day, we or our members post stories on the site that would be relevant to any student, regardless of college. When other papers in the network are hurting for content, they can check our site. Posts are marked as private so only those who signed up can see them. Membership is free, and all we ask is the original newspaper and author/designer/photographer be credited when his or her work is reprinted.

Any memorable moments so far?

Dave: We got a free month of hosting from GoDaddy after the company (my registrar of choice for years) botched our server setup. That’s kept our total investment to just $17.

What’s the long-term goal for the service?

Ryan: Basically, we want the site to keep growing. The more posts, the better. UWIRE was a safety net that also promoted our content, and that’s what we want for College News Network. As for specific goals, I’d love to have a student paper on the network from all 50 states. I’m pretty sure UWIRE had 800 members before shutting down. They set the bar.

What’s the plan of attack if and when UWIRE returns?

Ryan: That’s the big question, isn’t it? We know the stakes here.  UWIRE is/was the student media syndicate everyone knows. The site hired student editors (of which I was one) to add news and columns, while we rely on essentially volunteer work. It could be a very uphill battle.

Our main strength against UWIRE is that we have no corporate owners demanding a profit, or any intention of profit at all. College News Network doesn’t exactly have a budget. Dave and I continue putting the time in because the site’s grown into something that we’re very pleased with. We do read a lot of these newspapers anyway to see what other student papers are reporting on, that’s why we asked them to join. Of course, if UWIRE wants to buy us out for a few hundred million dollars, we’d probably listen.

For all the student newspaper haters out there, why do college news media matter?

Ryan: I look at student newspapers as the kind of journalism done by people who simply love reporting news. We write about serious topics that matter to students and try to cut through the jargon. Just because we’re under 25 doesn’t change a newspaper’s mission of holding people accountable. There are dumb mistakes from time to time, but these are reporters who cut class and give their all for very little pay to produce a free product. Plus, we aren’t burnouts yet.

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  2. […] College Media Matters, Dan Reimold has an exclusive interview with the founders of the College News Network. They’re bootstrapping a content-sharing network to fill the void of UWIRE and hope to […]

  3. […] College News Network is a nationwide student press content-sharing service that Ohio University duo Ryan Dunn and Ryan Hendricks launched for just $17 in the wake of UWIRE’s sudden disappearance.  (Here’s the related RSS feed.)  As Dunn told me: […]

  4. […] the UWIRE team noticed: College News Network, a campus press content sharing service launched by two Ohio University j-students to fill the niche left by UWIRE’s absence.  The service now has 54 member publications. […]