Riding on years of experience in college student media, Larry Steward, former president of the Western Collegiate Media Advisors, spoke to the Collegian Advisory Board Thursday night to discuss various formats of student-run publications.
The advisory committee is charged with reviewing proposals that offer changes to the current operations of the Collegian. 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.
Blanche Hughes, vice president for Student Affairs and committee chair, said Steward was invited to speak to the committee to provide insight and specifics on student newspaper management models.
“We’re looking at different models as we try to move forward and find out what we want to have as criteria for the proposal,” Hughes said.
Steward presented the committee first with his perceptions on the differences between the models of small and large student newspapers. Smaller papers equated to a smaller staff, part-time or non-existent advisors and generally unstable funding, Steward said. Larger student papers like the Collegian, he added, were often stronger in every aspect compared to their smaller peers.
“However, there are some smaller student papers that would knock your socks off,” Steward said.
As Steward’s presentation progressed, focused shifted to the four student newspaper formats visible in the national market: the university-operated student newspaper, the not-for-profit educational corporation, the academic student newspaper and the for-profit ownership/operation. Steward said there were benefits and problems in each format, mentioning that the not-for-profit educational corporation was the format he thought the Collegian was best suited for.
“I’m not embarrassed to say that I think the not-for-profit organization would give students so many things that would just knock your socks off,” Steward said. “I believe that the ability for the editors to have some kind of small checkbook, and be able to have more freedom, but also have more of a partnership with the professional staff.”
Steward also noted the relationship between the paper and the administration would be much less strained.
“It also relieves the (administration) of them that crutch, where they feel like they have to answer, it gives the Collegian organization a piece of mind that they aren’t as liable to be facing some kind of action on the part of the administration.”
Sean Reed, Collegian editorials editor and committee member, said he felt the paper needed no shift from its current format, the university-operated student newspaper.
“I’m not sold that we have to change anything,” Reed said. “I think that the university is not comfortable of being held liable, but I think there are ways of doing that that don’t involve us leaving completely.”
Reed continued, saying that because of the Collegian’s role as a “mothership” of Student Media, exiting the current format could have lasting effects on other student media entities.
“There are a lot of variables to be considered; we subsidize a lot of what goes on in the other branches of Student Media: CTV, KCSU, College Avenue,” Reed said. “If we leave entirely, I think it’d be a little more tricky for us to help those other branches and to work together.”
News Editor Erik Myers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.