The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment lays out the fundamental dedication to the protection of the press. However, America has struggled with preserving that freedom. Between growing attacks from right-wing politicians and supporters, along with the lack of financial support, newsrooms everywhere are in a tight spot.
Similarly, college newsrooms have faced these problems on an acute level. That is why the staff of The Duke is supporting college publications across the country in their #SaveStudentNewsrooms campaign. Student media organizations are incredibly important. They offer an unbiased and comprehensive student-run look at the important topics on any given campus and help inform students, faculty and alumni.
Across the country, fellow student publications have been facing more and more challenges, both financially and editorially. The #SaveStudentNewsrooms movement started after The Daily Campus paper at Southern Methodist University in Florida announced it would have to re-affiliate with the university due to financial woes. Another recent shutdown of a high school paper in California added to the importance of the movement. The paper was shuttered and its website scrubbed after it accurately and bravely reported on the real reason a teacher was dismissed from the school.
Examples like this are becoming more and more common. While we are lucky to be financially stable and operate independently, that doesn’t mean we haven’t run into issues in the past. In the 1970s, editors of The Duke had to appear before a Campus Judicial Board over satirical content run in an April Fool’s Day issue. They were thankfully cleared. In the 1980s, while still funded by the SGA, The Duke was shut down over running advertisements from a family planning organization, among other questionable charges. The SGA raided the newsroom and had the locks changed, forcing The Duke staff to print a rebel paper with the help of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s newsroom. The controversy resulted in creating the Publication Board, which allows much more independence.
Even this year, The Duke faced attempts at censorship when the SGA tried to issue a request for prior restraint, preventing its budgetary information from being published. Throughout that challenge, we received the support of Publications Board members, students, alumni and national organizations, of which we are incredibly thankful.
That’s what this campaign is all about — support. As the independent voice of the students, we rely on your readership and support to keep us operating. Times are tough to be a media outlet, let alone a
newspaper. So, we ask you to #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Look up the campaign; defend your right to read fair, unbiased journalism. Donations are always welcome and will help us deal with rising printing and technology costs. We want to be there for you, online and in-print, for as long as Stevenson Street is under construction (and hopefully longer!).