Marquette Student Media: A Convergent Civil War?

There are major changes afoot for student media at Marquette University– and at least some of the students and media being affected do not like them one bit.

The university student media board’s plan is a convergent extravaganza “meant to spark increased digital-first content and collaboration between its six branches”– including two student newspapers, a television station, a radio station, and an advertising club.

As part of the plan, The Marquette Tribune will be published much less in print, focusing instead on web and mobile– the board cites a recent readership audit that found lots of papers are not being grabbed from campus newsstands.  In a related sense, an executive student board will oversee and push staffers among all media “branches” to collaborate and produce content daily for a single site.

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Sounds great?  Not to some students.  An editorial response in the Tribune: “[W]hat we see is a hastily produced plan that blatantly ignores student input and . . . [and] puts the quality of student media at risk. . . . [T]he Student Media Board’s plan is a never-before-seen, arbitrary model for convergence that places web hits and digital performance ahead of quality reporting and good content.”

Among the concerns voiced by the Trib:

1) The restructuring pushes collaboration to such extremes the independence and identity of each individual media outlet and org is in danger.

2) The board is loosely basing the plan on one at Louisiana State University, but in the end “it strayed from that model to create something from scratch that doesn’t have an example of previous success.  Making up a structure– seemingly out of thin air– does not point to a promising outcome for student media.”

3) In rolling out the plan, the ideas of a few board members are being treated as golden, while the genuine solutions and concerns of the many students currently in the campus media muck and mire are being glossed over.

4) The chance for students to excel in one editorial and technological area is being tossed in favor of them experimenting and “being mediocre in three or four.”

Separately, at the tail-end of a goodbye letter published Friday, outgoing Trib managing editor Maria Tsikalas writes, “Through my work in the Office of Admissions, I have been asked by four incoming freshmen this week how to get involved in the Tribune. They don’t ask how to get involved in an ambiguous, ‘converged’ position that no one will see; rather, they ask how to join a publication that will improve their writing and storytelling abilities and will give them meaningful, journalistic work as well as an audience of 3,500 readers.  It is my sincere hope for them and for all future students that they will still find an opportunity at Marquette to do just that.”

As I’ve previously posted, the battle for Marquette journalism’s future has been ongoing– tackling issues of student media at-large, the Trib specifically, and related classes and the curriculum as a whole.

 

Related

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

Tribune: Marquette Journalism Program Changes Trigger ‘Frustrations Among Students That Cannot Be Ignored’

 

Comments
3 Responses to “Marquette Student Media: A Convergent Civil War?”
  1. Bryan Murley says:

    I think I hear this refrain every time anyone talks about convergence. Here’s a clue – quality reporting doesn’t depend on the medium.

  2. Jeff says:

    Editors being pushed to drive traffic numbers up to survive? A multi-outlet media conglomerate? A contracting budget in which journos are being asked to do more with less, even at the expense of quality?

    Dang you guys, Marquette is starting to sound like *the real world.*

  3. Maria says:

    @Jeff, Then what’s the point of paying for an education in journalism? Might as well just save the money and get right into the declining field, or major in marketing or public relations instead.

    If universities are not the last hold-out for quality, particularly a university built upon a moral and ethical Jesuit foundation, then decent, reliable journalism doesn’t stand a chance.

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