Best College Newspapers: 2013 Ranking Released by Princeton Review

2014 Best College Newspapers Ranking Released

The latest ranking of the country’s “Best College Newspapers” has been released by Princeton Review.  The winning papers are featured below, in order of their selection.

Th Cornell Daily Sun vaulted to the top of the current list, a startlingly dramatic rise for the Cornell University student pub. For the second straight year, The Yale Daily News at Yale University and The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill enjoyed silver and bronze medal status, occupying the second and third slots respectively. (In the 2012 ranking, those positions were reversed.)  Meanwhile, last year’s number one, The Daily Collegian at Penn State University, fell to fifth– a blow no doubt eased by the paper’s recent rollout of a revamped website.


The Brown Daily Herald at Brown University suffered the most precipitous drop — left off this year’s list after a fourth-place finish in 2012. The Herald is joined by six other papers ranked last year and now notably missing from the top-20 rundown: The Diamondback at the University of Maryland, The Red & Black at the University of Georgia, The Michigan Daily at the University of Michigan, The Post at Ohio University, The Daily Texan at the University of Texas at Austin and The Daily Northwestern at Northwestern University.

The two most interesting, out-of-left-field entrants in this year’s ranking (in my humble, college-news-nerd-infused opinion): The Hampton Script at Virginia’s Hampton University and The Bowdoin Orient at Maine’s Bowdoin College.

Kudos to both pubs. But seriously, where is the Emerald at the University of Oregon, The Crimson White at the University of Alabama, the Indiana Daily Student at Indiana University or The State News at Michigan State University? The MIA list of worthy candidates is long.

So are the valid criticisms of this high-profile ranking. As I previously posted, the process by which student newspapers achieve this “Best” distinction from Princeton Review is, well, fairly ridiculous.

Yet, the ranking seems to receive more attention from the public and mainstream media than every other student journalism contest and competition, including the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemakers (the student press equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes).  Why?  My guess, without sarcasm or cynicism: It’s an offshoot of the attention given to the sexier rankings such as “Best Party Schools.” (The latest winner in that category, in case you are curious, is the University of Iowa.)

1. The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell University

2. The Yale Daily News, Yale University

3. The Daily Tar Heel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

(Tie) 4. The Badger Herald, University of Wisconsin-Madison

(Tie) 4. The Daily Cardinal, University of Wisconsin-Madison

5. The Daily Collegian, Penn State University

6. The University Daily Kansan, Kansas University

7. The Daily Orange, Syracuse University

8. The Independent Florida Alligator, University of Florida

9. The Daily Nexus, University of California, Santa Barbara

10. The Daily Gamecock, University of South Carolina

11. The Rocky Mountain Collegian, Colorado State University

12. The Tufts Daily, Tufts University

13. The Hampton Script, Hampton University

14. The GW Hatchet, George Washington University

15. The Bowdoin Orient, Bowdoin College

16. The Breeze, James Madison University

17. Technician, North Carolina State University

18. The Exponent, Purdue University

19. The Hilltop, Howard University

20. The Daily Mississippian, University of Mississippi



Princeton Review Best College Newspapers: 2012 List

Princeton Review Best College Newspapers Ranking: Final Thoughts

College Media Podcast #2: RNC, Princeton Review Rankings, Oklahoma Daily Autopsy Report

College Newspaper of the Year, 2012-2013: The Emerald, University of Oregon

9 Responses to “Best College Newspapers: 2013 Ranking Released by Princeton Review”
  1. c.f. kane says:

    I disagree with the assessment that the data they use to form these rankings is ridiculous. While I do agree that the Princeton Review rankings are not perfect, I think they actually provide a bit of insight into how each paper is perceived on their respective campuses, which could be useful information for both those who made and did not make the list.

    I think each of the big competitions and ranking systems (Princeton, ACP, SPJ, CMA, etc.) each have their benefits and flaws. But consider this: the Princeton survey is the only one that attempts to draw the opinion from the reader. In journalism, we are all aiming to best serve our reader, so I actually think there are some things that newspapers can take from this survey, because really, this one might show us which newspapers are best able to connect with their readership.

    It’s different than the ACP and SPJ competitions — with actual judges, those competitions can tell us who wrote the best singular story, who has the best design, etc., between each other. But I think if you were to not compare the papers to each other, but simply to look at the perception of these papers, this survey provides some interesting results. I would not denounce this ranking list any more than I would another — in the other competitions, you have a set of judges who likely do not know what the main issues are on each and every campus. Who’s to say they could misread something because they are not part of the community and the readership of the paper? Journalists don’t write for other journalists or for judges, they write for their audiences, and this is the only ranking that seems to try and gauge what the target market thinks of each product. One could also say it is ridiculous to have people rank newspapers that serve communities they have never spent time in.

    I do wish the rankings came with something a bit more in-depth — I’d like to hear for sure what Cornell students think of their paper, or UNC students, etc. I’d like to go back and see what it is about Cornell, Yale, UNC that makes their newspapers popular on campus. But if I am an editor who is trying to improve my paper’s readership, trying to refocus and reenergize the publication to get more students to pick it up, I would look to this list and try and see what these papers do to make their students excited about their papers.

    For those who made this list, it should provide a little validation as to how they are able to be perceived on campus, though I hope each paper is able to accurately gauge their readership levels already.

    A lot has been written about the Emerald and all of the changes they went through, but none of the stories I have read mention the reader, the students. I’d like to know how successful they have been as far as readership from the people on campus, not just journalists abroad. How much did their web readership grow and how is their print readership — what are return rates like on issues, how is the circulation in comparison to the student enrollment, etc. How much are their stories tackling the most important issues for students on campus. Are non-journalism and non-communication students picking up their issues and checking their site each day.

    Readership is declining and circulations are being cut all over – which is why this Princeton survey, compiled with responses from the general student bodies at each school, the ones who are the ones deciding whether to pick up the paper or not each morning, is important. It doesn’t matter what new things you try or what changes you make if no one’s reading.

    Like I said, these rankings aren’t perfect, and I don’t think they do anything to rank which newspapers are producing the best stories, but they do something to give us a little data as to which newspapers actually connect to their audiences.

  2. An Oregon Alum says:

    You explain the rankings criteria and then naval gaze as to why the Emerald doesn’t make the list? The answer is right in front of you: No one in the campus community at UO respects the Emerald.

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