Student Press Version of ‘Lazy Higher Ed Journalism’

A write-up on “Lazy Higher Ed Journalism (spurred by a separate report on “Lazy Education Journalism” in general) recently achieved B-list viral status within the education and journalism communities.

In her Inside Higher Ed essay, Melanie Fullick charges news media with inefficient, often superficial reporting on relevant issues such as school rankings, technology’s impact on education, the value and characteristics of international students and faculty, and the various “solutions” offered as panaceas to supposedly ailing higher learning institutions.

My take: Among their many award-winning, innovative reports, student media are frequently guilty of this as well.  In my view, it’s not laziness.  It’s a disease. :)  I’ve dubbed it the SOS SASS– the Same Old Stories, Semester After Semester, Syndrome.

There are simply some stories that on a scroll through the archives of any student media outlet pop up again and again and again, sometimes with a fresh spin (although many times, not so much), but always with the same core issue or topic intact.

A few examples:

Student Fees

(Being Raised, Some Concerns)

New Staff Hire

(Smiley, Eager to Pitch In)

Campus Parking

(Tough to Grab a Spot)

Why are we covering the same stories over and over and over?  I understand student readers graduate and staff turnover at campus media is high and knowledge of past issues is not a priority and that some stories deserve repeated reporting and editorializing.  But something needs to be done to break out of writing yet again about the debate club’s regional tournament appearance or the annual sorority Easter egg hunt.

What can we learn from our student press predecessors? What is the value of yellowed student newspaper issues or now-archived Web pages displaying past student media efforts?  A flip through these print-and-Web treasure troves can provide a history lesson about how and how much things have changed at your school and also, more importantly, in my opinion . . . what things have stayed the same.

And so, along with ensuring all issues of a student press outlet are archived and available online or in the newsroom or campus library, I contend that all student staffs should consider mining those archives for story ideas, seeing what’s been covered and how it’s been covered.

The potential for present content is tremendous.  Timelines of important issues, more direct compare-contrasts, This Day in School History siders, and strengthened arguments galore.  For example, it’s one thing to complain about the university shuttle service at present.  It’s quite another to quote a mid-nineties article in the same student publication making the same plea for better campus-area transport that has apparently continued to fall on deaf ears.

3 Responses to “Student Press Version of ‘Lazy Higher Ed Journalism’”
  1. Bryan Murley says:

    I always tell students that bad parking is not news. It’s a problem on every campus, all the time.

    I also think the daily grind nature of much of the student press doesn’t always lend itself to in-depth investigative reporting. It’s “easier” to do the meeting story.

  2. Dan says:

    Bryan- Good to hear from you. Agree completely. Here’s only parking story of international interest I’ve come across in the past year:–halifax-professor-quits


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