Leading Student Newspaper in the UK May Be Unable to Publish Due to ‘Funding Crisis’

The Leeds Student at Britain’s Leeds University may be unable to publish a print edition for the remainder of the semester due to a “funding crisis” involving the school’s student union. The student newspaper’s sudden print-less plight has spurred a stream of criticism and concern from student groups, Leeds alumni and some of the paper’s former staffers — including those now working at A-list media throughout the UK.

The paper appears in print each Friday during the academic year at the 30,000-student university. The only paid staff position is top editor. The current “life-threatening funding problems” link to an advertising shortfall — in this case one that is literally out of the staff’s control.

Here is the 30-second summary offered by the Student: “LUU [Leeds University Union] is responsible for the printing costs of LS [Leeds Student] newspaper. LS cannot continue printing because these costs have not been met by the Union. LUU gives LS newspaper a £20k grant and then agrees to bring in advertising to cover the rest of the printing cost. This advertising target has not been met in previous years, however LUU has footed the bill when this has happened. This year LUU has not offered this, despite once again falling short of its own target. No assurances have yet been given about the future funding of LS.”

From the college media geek perspective, the most interesting detail here is that the student union has its own marketing team that works to get ads for the paper — trying to hit a set monetary amount each year. This means the paper’s own staffers are not allowed to obtain advertising themselves — even currently when it might help keep the Student in print.

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Cue anger and dismay. A former editor at the paper, now working at The Independent in the UK: “It would be a massive shame if the paper closes, because I can personally think of tens — and there are probably hundreds — of journalists working in national and regional papers who got their first gig at the Leeds Student. I know I wouldn’t be a journalist if I’d never started at LS. To lose an outlet like that is likely to damage the chances of lots of students.”

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According to the paper, 40 student groups representing a wide swath of campus life are publicly supporting a “Save Your Student Paper” campaign — from the Photo Society, Film Society, Jewish Society and Islamic Society to the Feminist Society, Model United Nations Society, Squash Society and Pool and Snooker Society.

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A Change.org petition calling for the union to continue funding the paper — titled “Save Leeds Student Newspaper” — has received more than 1,100 signatures. As one of the pub’s supporters writes on the main petition page:

“As a former news editor of Leeds Student Radio and later a visiting lecturer in journalism at the University of Leeds, I can say the voice Leeds Student gives to all students, the scrutiny it offers of the union and university, and the training ground it provides for future journalists, are all vital roles. Its ability to do all of these things will be inhibited by this lack of funding and the end of its print edition: It’s far too much to give up for the sake of a few grand.”

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