Washington Post Magazine: ‘College Newspapers Thriving’

Amid the “seismic shifts” upending modern journalism, the college newspaper, remarkably, is holding steady— remaining well-read, well-staffed, in print, and, for the most part, in the black financially.

According to a new Washington Post Magazine feature, the “tech-savvy breed” of student journalists currently working for campus papers nationwide bear striking similarities to the “preternaturally hardworking, hands-on college journalists of a generation ago.”

The piece— premiering online yesterday and set to run in print Sunday– focuses on The Georgetown Hoya as “a microcosm of campus journalism nationally.”  Staffers at the twice-weekly student paper at Georgetown University are described as journalistically passionate and mindful of looming deadlines, on-campus competition (the weekly newsmagazine The Georgetown Voice), and a school administration that “directly affects the staff’s coverage and . . . its budget, too.”

I am briefly cited in the piece, speaking about college papers’ enduring popularity in print among a generation of readers supposedly turned off by anything ink-stained.

As I’m quoted, “The traditional student paper is still being read and devoured by today’s students.” SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte and Alloy Media and Marketing confirm this devouring.

Why are students still reading the hard copy versions of campus pubs? I have a bunch of theories.  The big three featured in the article: They are free, portable (forget the hype– we are NOT in the tablet age yet), and still highly relevant to their student readers, in part by being bolder with content such as sex and satire that makes professional outlets squirm.

The most striking quote comes at the close, with the Hoya‘s co-deputy campus news editor Mariah Byrne teetering between youthful Superman-in-the-phone-booth idealism and where-does-journalism-go-from-here realism.

As Byrne told WP Magazine contributor Karen Houppert, “To bring light to issues that need more attention, that’s what news’ main role is. Because the more people spread the word, the more people will recognize the problems– and the more chance there is for change. . . . I’m the kind of person, when I see things, I want to do something about them. . . . But sometimes I feel so small.”

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  1. […] It is not breaking news, confirmed over the past few years by a number of news outlets and marketing surveys– including a fall 2010 Poynter Online piece (screenshot below) and a Washington Post Magazine feature published in April. […]