Print Cut Fight Goes Digital: Trouble at Marquette Tribune Leads to ‘Outpouring of Support’ Online

The print edition of The Marquette Tribune has been cut four-to-eight pages per issue.  But for the power of Twitter and Change.org, it apparently could have been worse.

In the middle of the week, Marquette University’s student media board voted to cut the 16-to-20-page twice-weekly paper to eight pages.  According to the Tribune, the move is tied to a larger school spending freeze and a student media cost-cutting directive from the provost.  Yet, in true administration-frustration fashion, no one could say at the mid-week meeting “how much a cut to eight pages would save in costs, nor how much the university was requesting in savings.”  Sigh.

The Tribunites and an impassioned band of Marquette student, staff, and alumni supporters quickly fought back– reminding campus about the paper’s importance and explaining why such a severe cut would harm its journalistic bottom line.

In 48 hours they launched a Twitter hashtag, #LongLiveTheTrib, so popular it began trending in the Milwaukee area.  A Change.org petition, calling on Marquette to “reinstate the student media budget,” has nabbed roughly 135 signatures.

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As one supporter writes, “By cutting down on the Tribune, I believe that the university is robbing its journalism students of some key opportunities to gain leverage in the workplace post-graduation. . . . [E]ight pages doesn’t seem adequate enough to serve such a large university.”

A separate commenter notes on the Change.org petition, “People believe print is dead, and by cutting such a successful and well loved publication in half, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The Trib is hands down the most successful student media outlet, and downsizing it will do nothing but harm to those who work for and avidly read it.  I have never been so disappointed in my college.”

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The “outpouring of support” for the paper and competing criticisms of the school’s cutthroat agenda appear to have made at least a slight difference.  Yesterday, the student media board “partially revoked” its earlier extreme print reduction plan, deciding instead the paper will now “publish issues of 12 to 16 pages rather than its traditional 16 to 20.”

The initial sentiment is that all the online chatter helped.  As one student tweeted, “#LongLiveTheTrib actually did something?  Twitter has some power, congrats to all.”

But will the partial victory last?  Sadly, it appears not.  As a Trib report confirms, “[T]he Tribune [is] still likely being cut to eight- to 12-page issues next year due to a coming five percent spending cut by the university.”  Sigh.

#LongLiveTheTrib

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