Prioritization affects local student publications
University leaders address student media cutback fears.
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012 12:04
The Columbia Chronicle school newspaper has had to cut back due to budget cuts. So did the UIC Flame. And larger papers across the nations have started to migrate online exclusively. As a response to low enrollment, the process of “prioritization” at Columbia and similar colleges has often cut newspaper and student organization funding first.
And Roosevelt University is not exempt from the effects of cut-and-burn “prioritization.”
The Torch, Roosevelt’s student-run newspaper, has faced de facto budget cuts in recent years. The costs for the new publication are rising while the budget has stayed the same.
Marian Azzaro chairs the Roosevelt Communications Department and says she understands Columbia’s administrative decision to eliminate publication, but calls prioritization’s effects on student organizations scary and disappointing.
In response to rumors of similar cutbacks in Roosevelt’s student-run media outlets in the guise of organizing priorities, Azzaro spoke out.
“Prioritization dictates how student organizations can function, which is bad for all of us,” said Azzaro. “I would fight it, if those issues came up here at Roosevelt for our paper, and I’m sure faculty members at Columbia are fighting against it too.”
Billy Montgomery, a Columbia Chronicle former advisor and current Torch faculty advisor, argues that the skills learned and developed in producing work outside of class have value that budget committees may not have considered.
“The fewer resources we have for students, the more they’ll be hindered in the real world,” he said.
Montgomery focuses on students turning out professional-quality work instead of papers and projects in his own communications courses.
“The skills gained from putting together a paper—layout, graphic design, reporting, writing—helps train students to be organized and gives them invaluable experience.”
Charles J. Williams, a post-production specialist and current Columbia student, knows that producing work that can be distributed to peers in print is valuable, and has gotten freelance work after employers saw his videos on Columbia’s in-house television network, Frequency.
But as far as newspapers go, he can see the tides are changing.
“There’s nothing like having a paper in your hand,” Williams said, who confessed to preferring physical books and newspapers versus e-readers and online articles. “But in reality, the world is progressing towards the Internet and towards website design. Like film once did, print is colliding with the digital age and outdated skills become obsolete.”
Montgomery understands the media move towards the Internet, but doesn’t feel that print is dead, a warning phrase becoming more familiar to young, aspiring journalists.
“Instead of cutting publications like the Chronicle, which is an award-winning paper, they might instead look at the things that successful local newspapers are doing, and why they work,” Montgomery said. “Skills like finding advertising for the paper can be applied to real-world jobs.”
Azzaro was disheartened to hear about students worrying about funding for their respective organizations.
“Students…shouldn’t have to do that,” Azzaro said. “The university prides itself on offering a variety of student organizations. It’s part of university life to be able to provide that, not take it away because of funding.”
To get involved in Roosevelt’s own student-run media outlets like the Torch or the radio station, WRBC, contact Billy Montgomery at email@example.com.