Beating Back ‘Apocalyptic Threat,’ Daily Texan Will Remain Daily in Print (for Now)

The Daily Texan is emerging intact from a longstanding “apocalyptic threat” possibly involving radical cutbacks or a full shutdown. The daily student newspaper at the University of Texas at Austin will remain daily in print, at least in the short term.

The save-the-daily heroes: officials at the Moody College of Communication. The top Moodster, dean Roderick Hart, has told the DT’s overseeing body Texas Student Media (TSM) that the college will step in with money and fundraising prowess to help the paper weather its current financial mess.

Hart: “Moody will have a viable business plan in place by fall of 2017 that will put TSM on road for success. I am highly optimistic about our ability to turn around the TSM budget proposal.”

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As I’ve previously posted, the Texan has been stuck in a gargantuan revenue hole in recent semesters. Lots of stop-gaps and longer-term solutions have been debated and a few implemented. In-fighting has been brutally public at times, most notably the vehement criticism of DT  alumni over a proposal to reduce publication of the daily paper to four times per week in print.

By comparison, according to the DT’s current top editor Laura Wright, one option being bandied about immediately prior to Moody’s intervention was chopping “a five-day-a-week Daily Texan to a one-day-a-week Daily Texan, if, as many have suggested, a paper that prints only one day a week should even continue using ‘Daily’ in its name.”

In a manifesto to readers last week criticizing administrators and TSM leaders for repeatedly bailing on student teams in troubled times (for example, there have been three TSM board presidents in five years), Wright expressed her strong support for the paper’s survival. But she was simultaneously cognizant of the changing landscape, and the copious amounts of challenges and ink-stained apathy standing in the editorial board’s way.

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As she writes, “It’s often said that no one cares about the campus newspaper, and having walked past piles of unretrieved Texans on far too many West Campus lawns, I recognize that for many students on this campus, that statement rings true. I also recognize that the print media market is an evaporating puddle, that college media outlets across the nation are struggling, that the Texan is in want of major organizational changes and that the paper I’ve made the cornerstone of my college experience may never turn a profit again.”

In response to these struggles, she sounds a Texan-sized college media call-to-arms:

“[A] university as large, important and historic as UT needs a strong, independent student newspaper as much as it needs a student government or a classics department or a president or even a football team. Because teaching students that their actions are newsworthy, that their opinions have a place in the public domain and that authority must be checked by a Fourth Estate is crucial to teaching them how to be good citizens of the state.”

Related

Texas President Cuts Secret Deal, Shifts Daily Texan Under Communication College Control

College Media Podcast: The Secret (Seemingly Desperate) Daily Texan Shuffle

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