Funding Progress: ‘Social Media & Email Storm’ Helps Save Daily Egyptian From Ruin

Somewhere in Iraq, Heidi Diedrich is smiling. So is Eric Jay Fidler in Illinois. The pair are joined in their joy by many others who sport past or present affiliations with The Daily Egyptian.

After more than a year of financial duress and a recent rejected effort to secure money to survive, the student newspaper at Southern Illinois University Carbondale suddenly has a much stronger chance of obtaining the funding that will keep it operating on all cylinders — and ensure it continues appearing regularly in print. After saying no to a student media fee proposal the first time around, the SIU Carbondale president changed his mind Friday. With the backing of his board of trustees chairman and some Illinois legislators, he lent his support behind a $9-per-student-per-semester fee to help the DE — placing it on the agenda for hopeful approval at next month’s board meeting.

What spurred this administrative about-face? William Freivogel, director of the SIU Carbondale School of Journalism, believes it was the respectfully passionate campaign waged by current and former DE staffers — embodied by the oft-tweeted and promoted #SavetheDE hashtag.

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As I have posted previously, the paper’s faculty managing editor Eric Jay Fidler has been vocal in his push for the student media fee. In an email Friday to a popular college media list-serv, he shared with an almost audible sigh of relief, “There is more that needs to be done to ensure a sustainable future, but this is a huge step. … All the energy I would like to have put into innovation has gone into surviving for so long, I don’t quite know what to do!”

Along with Fidler’s efforts, DE alums have recently written commentaries and personal letters reflecting on the value of their own DE experiences and underscoring the need for the outlet to remain in action and in print. I shared one of them — from Heidi Diedrich, an international human rights worker based in Iraq — in a post late last week.

As she wrote to SIU Carbondale’s president, “My personal and professional success can be attributed, in part, to my experience at SIU. . . . Denying SIU and the greater southern Illinois community the benefit of the DE would be unfortunate. But denying SIU students the rich experience and personal and professional growth that comes from working at the DE would be a tragedy.”

Here is a copy of an email Freivogel sent to some DE alums and supporters informing them of the major progress toward funding triumph. Below that is a copy of the signed memorandum moving the student media fee one giant step closer to ultimate approval.

Dear Faculty, Advisory Board and DE alums,

The past week has been wild but I think we are in a much better position today than a week ago relative to the DE fee. The main reason is the social media and email storm that DE alums created over the past week. The hashtag #savethede is now ubiquitous.

Here are the main developments: On Monday I was able to get Dr. Dunn the background on how we had vetted the $9 fee with a score of industry leaders, including many of you.  He said he might have pushed back harder on the board had he known about this process.  He told me he could take the fee back to an executive committee of the board this summer and get it in place by the fall term.  He asked that I put together a working group/swat team of industry leaders without DE connections to vet the fee.  I told him I’d do it.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Dr. Dunn visited Springfield where DE supporters in the general assembly were well prepared.  An amendment was added to the SIU appropriation to give $70k to the School of Journalism for the DE.  Dr. Dunn found that Jackie Spinner had been invited to talk to legislative leaders about the issue.  After meeting with legislators and their aides, Dr. Dunn and Chairman Thomas signed a memo of understanding supportive of the the DE and the fee.  It is attached and the DE story on the memo can be found at the link below.

The memo says that Dr. Dunn and Chairman Thomas accept the analysis that led to the $9 fee and will propose it to the board so it can be enacted by July..  Dr. Dunn still wants me to complete the working group analysis to verify the numbers behind the fee.

The long and short of it is that just about everything is in place for enactment of the fee this summer.  And the reason is you all.  Thanks to everyone.  I’ll keep you posted as the board action approaches.

best

bill

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Related

State Funds May Save Daily Egyptian From Ruin; Special Issue Confirms ‘Clock is Ticking’

Dear Mom: 10 Reasons Why There Should Be a Student Media Fee at SIU Carbondale

Student Media Fee at SIUC Delayed: ‘Almost Certainly Means End of the Daily Egyptian’

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