Feb 212008
Authors: Erik Myers

Jeff Browne, director of student media, presented the story of Student Media to members of the Collegian advisory committee Thursday night, detailing the organization’s present-day operations and history.

The advisory committee, composed of 14 members, has been charged with the duty of reviewing proposals that offer changes to the current operations of the Collegian.

The committee was formed after the Collegian discovered that CSU President Larry Penley quietly arranged a closed-door meeting with Christine Chin and Bob Moore, the respective publisher and executive editor of Gannett-owned publication the Fort Collins Coloradoan, to discuss a possible acquisition of the paper.

Browne’s presentation touched upon all aspects of Student Media operations, including the histories, organizational structures and financial workings of the five entities involved with Student Media: the Collegian, College Avenue, CTV, KCSU, and the Colorado High School Press Association.

One part of Browne’s presentation offered the results of a 2007 survey of CSU students. According to the survey, which asked students of their perception of their school’s media services, 90 percent of students read the Collegian one or more times a week, with 76 percent of students saying they read the Collegian three or more times a week.

The same survey mentioned that 98 percent of the student population identified KCSU as CSU’s radio station, while 15 percent watched CTV at least a few times a month.

Browne later spoke on the financial aspects of Student Media. The Collegian, he noted, was the “mothership” of Student Media; whereas CTV and KCSU relied on student fees, the Collegian is self-sufficient, funded by its advertising.

In a typical year, the Collegian generates just under $1 million in sales to pay for printing costs, student and professional salaries, and equipment.

But the Collegian, as the industry as a whole is seeing a downtrend in advertising sales, has suffered with the approach of electronic media.

“The unfortunate part of it is that more than 90 percent of traditional print media revenue is still coming from the print publications that they have, and that’s us. We get a little from the Web, but we still rely on revenue (from print advertisers).”

Browne said the paper has seen a significant drop in the fall semester, the current spring semester had seen an incredible start, largely in part to the space purchased by the organizers of the Stanford 20/20 cricket tournament.

“The first four weeks of this semester have been the best four weeks of the second semester,” Browne said.

Browne also mentioned the Board of Student Communications, which oversees the operations of all Student Media, and were responsible for the university’s reaction to the infamous “Taser This” editorial in September.

Browne explained BSC’s decision in admonishing Collegian Editor-in-Chief J. David McSwane rather than dismissing him, and the specifics of the oversight they had.

“In the end, I believe, they decided that it was simply a content decision, not a problem of overall management of the newsroom at the Collegian,” Browne said. “They can hear complaints and dismiss editors or station managers, but not over content decisions.”

The lesser-known CHSPA operates out of Student Media and brings high school journalists to CSU every year for Journalism Day, an event Browne said is valuable not only to Student Medaia, but to the university as well.

“I can’t tell you how valuable (CHSPA) has been as a marketing tool to get students to think about CSU as a destination to study and practice journalism.” Browne said.

Browne, who has served various positions within Student Media for the past nine years, said he had been proud of the organization and its student-run services.

“We really have an amazing organization here; it’s been great to be able to tell our story,” Browne said.

Steve Wahlfeldt, CHSPA board member and advisor of Rocky Mountain High School newspaper, The Highlighter, said Browne’s presentation gave a lengthy and detailed overview of Student Media operations and introduced some new thoughts into his own thinking.

“I think as we progress in this process, the committee will need to understand the impact of Student Media if you take one piece of it away,” Wahlfeldt said. “If you take something like the Collegian away, what will that mean budget-wise, facility-wise?”

News Editor Erik Myers can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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