WSU Student Journalists Say They’ll Keep Fighting Amid Proposed Cuts
Washington State University’s student newspaper, The Daily Evergreen, is facing a deficit up to $130,000. The editorially independent newspaper is in the Office of Student Media under WSU’s Division of Student Affairs. Student Media director Richard Miller has proposed cutting three days from the print schedule, eliminating the printed summer edition, and going to a smaller printing format to save costs.
After returning from the semester break, the Daily Evergreen published a front-page editorial titled “NO PR, NO BS, NO RETREAT,” officially renaming the newspaper’s tagline to that phrase.
The editorial board says they are pushing back against the proposed cuts to them and university wide – which included eliminating the entire Performing Arts program and mandating a 2.5 percent spending reduction across all university units. They say the Evergreen is an important and editorially independent voice of real journalism that is necessary to hold the WSU administration accountable as it hires more PR and marketing staff to produce “WSU News” to highlight positive stories about the university’s research.
NWPB “All Things Considered Host” Thom Kokegne sat down with Evergreen editor-in-chief Madison Jackson to talk about the proposed cuts, and how they’ll keep doing their work.
Following is an edited version of their conversation.
(NOTE: Northwest Public Broadcasting faces the same budget-tightening reality, as it’s a service of WSU’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, though editorially independent of the university.)
On proposed cuts and how it may affect their work as student journalists:
There are multiple different options the student media board has to discuss. Many of them are cutting print, that can be one day, two days, three days, and also cutting print over the summer.
On what the Evergreen was trying to achieve with its editorial and new tagline “NO PR, NO BS, NO RETREAT”:
We are wanting the public to take us more seriously. Something that has happened in the past is they see us as just students, as people who can make mistakes because we’re just learning. We function at a professional level. We’re not here to fool you, we’re not here to trick you. We won’t back down from what we believe in, and we won’t back down from telling you the truth.
On what kind of work they do to prove the point that they’re a professional group of journalists:
We have increased our amount of public records requests and heavily hitting our enterprise reporting. That would be things using those public records, looking deep into the (WSU) administration, trying to talk to people and diverse communities and deeper into the university and campus.
On why people and the average taxpayer should care about what they do and how their money goes to support a student newspaper at a public university:
We’re here to prepare the next generation of journalists, and we can’t do that if we’re not providing them the best experience possible.
If I were to encourage the community to do anything that would be to look at how hard the student journalists are working. And if you take that away, you won’t have a free and independent news source anymore. You’ll have WSU News, WSU Insider, WSU Magazine (from the university’s PR/marketing division). We are the only news source that is solely independent of anyone.
On the weight of overseeing independent news source as a watchdog on the university:
I get to sign time cards. I am literally their boss. This is resting on my shoulders. The entire legacy of 125 years is on my shoulders. And that’s a scary thing. And it’s scary for the future of journalism. And it’s scary for the future of WSU.
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