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April 08, 2011 10:00 AM College Newspapers Still Succeeding

By Daniel Luzer

Hoya1.jpg

Real journalism may be screwed, but it turns out college journalism is doing pretty well.

According to a piece by Karen Houppert in the Washington Post:

The students who are putting out the [Georgetown University] Hoya this night are, in many ways, very much like the preternaturally hardworking, hands-on college journalists of a generation ago. But unlike their counterparts of yore, the Hoya staffers are part of a highly tech-savvy breed that is easily adapting to the seismic shifts that are convulsing the professional newspaper industry.
The Hoya is a microcosm of campus journalism nationally in other ways, too. Like most student newspapers, it has not seen the same drop in readership experienced by most professional papers. Indeed, although hard data are scanty, a national survey of 600 students conducted between Jan. 31 and Feb. 11 by Alloy Media and Marketing and research firm Hall & Partners found that a full 85 percent of students had read the print edition of their campus paper in the past month. Seventy-two percent had read the paper online.

Okay, you know why that is? Because campus newspapers aren’t supposed to be profitable enterprises. They’re subsidized by student activity fees.

It’s a damn club. This is like the way debate societies or chess teams are thriving on college campuses too and have no successful equivalent outside of college.

Even if the paper becomes independent of Georgetown, as many on campus prefer, it will still be a dramatically different organ from say, the Washington Post; no one who works for the Hoya expects to get paid.

“To bring light to issues that need more attention, that’s what news’ main role is,” says Hoya reporter Mariah Byrne. “Because the more people spread the word, the more people will recognize the problems — and the more chance there is for change.”

That’s true. Too bad all those aspiring journalists will have to go work in PR once they actually graduate from Georgetown. [Image via]

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