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June 14, 2013 1:43 PM College Newspapers Face Same Money Troubles as Real Newspapers

By Daniel Luzer

Who says college doesn’t teach real-world skills?

Are you a journalist worried if your publication will survive, given the changing nature of the industry? It turns out there’s college preparation for that, too.

Many of the problems faced by real publications—declining advertising revenue and confusion about where to focus efforts in a changing world of journalism—are problems for college newspapers, too.

According to a piece at Poynter:

In an era of changing media models, student journalists aren’t just grappling with the basics of reporting, writing, editing and publishing — they’re struggling to survive.
The challenge is the same one faced by their professional counterparts: decreased advertising revenue coupled with increased printing costs. Like the pros, college media organizations have tried to adapt by simultaneously pursuing cost reductions and striking out into new businesses.

The University of California at Irvine raised student fees to pay for the cost of printing the school newspaper. The University of Oregon is working on Internet-based startup projects to funnel money into the school paper. Syracuse, the University of Minnesota and UC Berkeley decided to cut back the number of print issues the put out; four papers a week now, instead of five.

Experts point out that it’s perhaps not quite as bad as is the case with real papers. College newspapers don’t have union contracts, or usually even staff to pay, so their struggles are perhaps not quite as dire. No college newspapers have actually closed as a result of recent financial pressures.

There’s also no evidence that college newspapers are addressing changing finances by shifting toward an editorial focus on lowest-common-dominator LOL Cats stuff, so at least there’s that.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer