May 062008
 
Authors: Bijah Gibson

Bringing an end to months of speculation and debate, Blanche Hughes, vice president of Student Affairs, recommended to CSU President Larry Penley that Student Media become an independent, not-for-profit media corporation Monday.

Hughes’ recommendation came in the form of a memorandum to Penley who endorsed the recommendations and will present it to the Board of Governors of the CSU system this summer.

“I recommend to you that a not-for-profit 501(c)3 educational media corporation be established to include all of Student Media,” Hughes stated in the memorandum. “In addition, I suggest that an Implementation Working Group be established as soon as possible to work on the transition details.”

The recommendation came following a lengthy review process of the Collegian Advisory Committee, which examined the various models of student media at universities around the country, as well as the sole proposal submitted to the committee by Jeff Browne, Student Media director, which called for the formation of a non-profit corporation.

The group was formed after CSU President Larry Penley held a closed-door meeting with Gannett officials to discuss a possible acquisition of the student paper in January. The committee was chaired by Hughes and was composed of student and professional representatives from the four branches of Student Media, industry professionals, journalism professors, student government representatives, and others involved with Student Media.

The proposal to make Student Media a non-profit media corporation was supported by a majority of the Collegian Advisory Committee. Anne Hudgens, executive director of Campus Life and vice chairperson for the committee, said she believes the proposal will address many of the issues that have the potential to cause problems between the university and Student Media.

“It’s a tricky thing to be a publisher and a governing body,” Hudgens said of the university’s current position. “This proposal disentangles the university from conflicts and protects Student Media.”

In addition to the proposal submitted by Browne, the committee also considered keeping Student Media as a university-operated entity.

Browne’s proposal, however, won out, due to the numerous advantages it would provide.

Among the advantages of making Student Media a non-profit media corporation is that Student Media will have a large amount of flexibility in its operation.

Additionally, the committee agreed that the proposal will help Student Media provide leadership opportunities for students within and will ensure accountability on the part of editors and staff.

If approved, the proposal will also give Student Media the option of pursuing strategic partnerships in future.

Sean Reed, Collegian editorials editor and a committee members, said this proposal will be to the benefit of all parties involved.

“I think it will give us a little more independence,” Reed said. “It gives us more editorial control, and the university doesn’t have to freak out if they don’t like something we print.”

Once the committee settled upon the non-profit media corporation model, it laid out elements thought to be essential to its implementation.

The first of these essential elements is that education is kept as the main mission of Student Media.

In her memorandum to Penley, Hughes said the committee believes it essential that relationships among Student Media, the journalism department, and other departments and organizations be sustained.

Hughes also mentioned the committee had stressed unity among all Student Media outlets — Collegian, CTV, KCSU and College Avenue.

A formal version of the proposal will be presented to the CSU Board of Governors June 3 for approval.

Staff writer Bijah Gibson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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