UC San Diego launches news outlet
A lot of college media folks are talking about the latest trends – reducing or dropping print, focusing on digital first content, finding new revenue streams, keeping up with technology. We’ve heard about these trends so much, we might be tired of them.
But we can get excited about something The Triton at the University of California, San Diego is doing. Starting a news outlet from scratch and celebrating its success. That’s a trend many of us could probably get behind.
Gabe Schneider, founder and current editor in chief, said he wanted to start The Triton because he didn’t feel the student newspaper, The Guardian, was covering hard news and student opinion.
“They weren’t covering campus issues and protests,” he said. “We thought it would be important to expand coverage and not just news.”
Incoming editor in chief Jaz Twersky said she agrees.
“The Guardian is funded directly by the university and is an older institution and is still more PR in focus,” Twersky said. “We were in need of an independent news on campus to do investigative work.”
Managing editor Aleena Karamally said she agrees on the importance of founding an independent outlet, but also stressed the importance of the digital approach.
“The Triton is a digital source of news and does not print,” Karamally said. “We find digital media to be much more accessible and convenient for our audience.”
Additionally Schneider said UC-San Diego doesn’t focus on student journalism as much as other schools in the UC system.
“When you look at the other UCs, the missing puzzle piece is we aren’t known for student journalism,” Schneider said. “We are known for the Koala. But [UCSD] has a rich history. Conservative, and liberal papers and minority focused papers. Everything.”
The Koala, known for humor and doing whatever they want, created such a controversy on campus in 2016 that the administration officially denounced them and the Associated Students council decided to defund all student publications. There was then a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.
But not only didn’t that negatively impact The Triton (they’ve always been independent), it might have helped their cause.
“It got students talking and evaluating media on campus,” he said. “The defunding acted as a catalyst for us to keep pursuing independent student journalism.”
Twersky said the defunding reiterated the importance of being completely independent, and Karamally said it sent a message about how the campus feels about student-produced media.
“Defunding print media without concern for the future of student publications seemed to express our administration and student government’s lack of value for student press on campus,” Karamally said.
Being completely independent seems to have helped The Triton. In the short time it has been around, the staff has grown to around 50 members, website hits are around 5,000 a day and the staff is planning to put together an advisory board.
“Folks just want to get involved,” Schneider said.
Karamally said the quality of the Triton content has helped with recruitment.
“Our staff has been drawn to this publication because of the content and results we produce,” she said. “It is the drive and initiative of our staff that has kept this publication not only running but constantly improving and progressing.”
Twersky, who is currently opinions editor, agrees that content helps recruit, but she still actively seeks out diverse voices.
“We’ve reached out pretty actively when they seem like they’d be a good fit for the paper,’ she said. “My team is a mix of people who reach out to me and who I’ve reached out to.”
Twersky said that while recruitment is going well, turnover, that at all college media, is constant, so an advisory board is important.
“[An advisory board] could serve as a steadying and grounding influence,” she said. “By helping us do our work in an informed way and help us maintain best practices, they could be helpful.”
Schneider said he agrees and hopes a council will be a great support system.
“An advisory board will hopefully help anchor us,” he said. “[We are] hoping that they’ll advocate for us. Students are tuned in, we’re not sure administration or faculty are. We’d like to see stronger involvement all around.”
Schneider said he hopes to see The Triton thrive in the next few years.
“I’d like to see us have a permanent space on campus,” he said. “Non profit status. 150 staffers. As we increase students on campus, there’s a bigger need to tell students what is going on.”
Twersky and Karamally want those things and more.
“I hope there is a journalism minor at UCSD,” Twersky said. “And that it’ll work with us.”
Karamally hopes The Triton will offer “panel discussions, workshops, and connections to internships for students.”