Letter from the Editor: Why #SaveStudentNewsrooms is important for every student

Hannah Lee, Editor-in-Chief

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Today marks the second year of the #SaveStudentNewsrooms movement. Colleges across the country, and even some internationally, are coming together to show the struggles they have gone through in the past year and to showcase how important student newsrooms are.

Many financially independent student newsrooms are struggling to make ends meet as many are donation based. Several are going back to their universities and that can cause a lot of issues. Several student newsrooms this past year have faced budget cuts and censorship from their university or student government associations. Why? Because student journalists were doing their job. They investigated and published what they found.

Universities don’t like bad press. When stories come out about inappropriate behavior from professors, the mishandling of Title IX cases, the misuse of funds, and being critical of the university administration, it can seem like the student newsrooms are to blame. As previous Editor-in-Chief Tiffany Salameh said last year, “Publishing stories critical of a university is not a crime, it’s a service to the community. It’s not a cause for university student governments around the country to decrease funding for student journalism. Student journalism is not the university’s PR department.”

Spinnaker Media is unique to most student newsrooms. We don’t publish a weekly newspaper, but we do publish daily on our digital website. We are also different because we are partnered with the university TV station and the university radio station. This merger doesn’t happen at most universities. Due to this, our funds are spread out over five departments (News, TV, Radio, Business, and Creative Services).

Spinnaker is funded primarily from student fees that are allocated to us by Student Government. We have dealt with problems from Student Government in the past. In 2015, Spinnaker’s funding received a 13 percent budget cut for the 2015-2016 school year. Print products were reduced and many student positions were nixed because of the change in funding. Due to this, Spinnaker now relies primarily on volunteers.

During the past school year, Spinnaker has broke several stories. Spinnaker found out that an associate professor misused thousands of dollars in university funds, a well-respected and well-liked Vice President was fired, the stricter alcohol policies that were implemented on campus, and that a biology professor had ten years of inappropriate behavior with his female students and was on suspension again for sexual harassment.

Spinnaker also published stories on an international student getting into UNF after a major struggle of passing the SAT, a first-generation student being chosen to MC President David Szymanski’s inauguration, a student who was born with cerebral palsy who is fighting to change people’s perspective, a student who raised over $1000 for the Jacksonville Landing victims, and how several UNF alum created a non-profit organization to help remote areas gain access to clean water.

While several newsrooms are asking for donations to help them continue with their work, we are just asking you to be a reader. Read our website, tune in to our radio station, watch our tv shows on youtube, pick up the semesterly magazine, and download the app. Share our articles, if you have the time. The more you participate in Spinnaker, the more we can give you.

And remember, we are working for you.

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For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].