Student Journalists at St. John’s Surprised, Disappointed By Newsroom Relocation Plan

The Torch is being evicted from its newsroom. Staff and equipment for the St. John’s University student newspaper is being relocated this summer to a new space — one that its editorial team and affiliated journalism program director are surprised and less than thrilled about.

According to a Torch report, “The announcement sparked outrage from current and former staff at the paper, which is financially independent from the school, as well as speculation that this decision may have been in response to Torch coverage of difficult issues over the past couple of years.”

So is this actually a bit of spatial revenge for gung-ho editorial work? SJU admins are saying no way, swearing the newsroom shift is simply “part of a larger realignment to maximize space efficiency on the [student center’s] first floor. … [S]chool administrators outlined plans to fashion the new, slimmed-down workspace like the ‘modern newsrooms’ of Google and Twitter with things like bean bag chairs and stand-up workstations.” Only one problem with that plan, as former Torch editor-in-chief Kieran Lynch pointed out: Google and Twitter don’t have newsrooms.

school administrators outlined plans to fashion the new, slimmed-down workspace like the “modern newsrooms” of Google and Twitter with things like bean bag chairs and stand-up workstations. – See more at: http://www.torchonline.com/news/2014/05/01/admins-to-torch-time-to-relocate/#prettyPhoto
part of a larger realignment to maximize space efficiency on the first floor of the D’Angelo Center – See more at: http://www.torchonline.com/news/2014/05/01/admins-to-torch-time-to-relocate/#prettyPhoto
The announcement sparked outrage from current and former staff at the paper, which is financially independent from the school, as well as speculation that this decision may have been in response to Torch coverage of difficult issues over the past couple of years. – See more at: http://www.torchonline.com/news/2014/05/01/admins-to-torch-time-to-relocate/#prettyPhoto
The announcement sparked outrage from current and former staff at the paper, which is financially independent from the school, as well as speculation that this decision may have been in response to Torch coverage of difficult issues over the past couple of years. – See more at: http://www.torchonline.com/news/2014/05/01/admins-to-torch-time-to-relocate/#prettyPhoto

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The second problem with the plan overall is a lack of communication. According to managing editor Olivia Cunningham, “I think this all stems from a misunderstanding of how a real print newspaper works. Our needs were not assessed, we were not consulted, the former E-board was not consulted on how we can move forward.”

St. John’s journalism program director Mark Prendergast is also not a fan of the new newsroom plan on spec. As he tells Lynch: “I was troubled by [the news] especially given the description to me of the new quarters which don’t sound very conducive to the operations of the Torch, the fostering of a little journalism culture for our journalism students and for the teaching of the practicum [class] which traditionally uses the Torch newsroom and produces stories for the Torch.”

There is, alas, precedent for such sudden, forced student newsroom relocating. One example: In spring 2012, the student newspaper at the University of Portland was evicted from its offices in the school’s student center to make room for professional staff overseeing a campus religious group. Portland administrators decided upon the shift without consulting the paper’s editorial crew. After taking over the newsroom space, the director of UP’s Campus Ministry famously said, “I’m not trying to be gloating, but we won this one.”

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“I was troubled by [the news] especially given the description to me of the new quarters which don’t sound very conducive to the operations of the Torch, the fostering of a little journalism culture for our journalism students and for the teaching of the practicum [class] which traditionally uses the Torch newsroom and produces stories for the Torch,” he said. – See more at: http://www.torchonline.com/news/2014/05/01/admins-to-torch-time-to-relocate/#prettyPhoto

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