‘Bum steer’ wants student life newspaper
Administrators nix director’s plan for a second student paper.
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 16:05
Despite a line item of “Student Publications” listed as part of an $800,000 student activities budget, President Robert Zeigler and Dr. Robert Vela, vice president of student affairs, reiterated their support May 2 for The Ranger as the sole college newspaper.
Student life Director Jorge Posadas said that if the student activity fee is raised from $1 to $2 in spring 2013, the “student-run” newspaper would begin in fall 2013 and require $70,000 for operation and travel expenses plus an unspecified amount to hire a coordinator.
But his bosses do not see a need for it.
Zeigler said May 2 he understood the student activity fee budget to only allocate funds for brochures and newsletters from campus clubs and organizations.
He said he did not see the purpose of creating a publication from the student activity fee.
“We’ve got one newspaper,” Zeigler said. “I don’t see the point in replicating that.”
Vela said he will seek clarification about the student activity fee funding a second newspaper.
“If that is the intent, that is not the direction we would want to go,” he said May 2.
“We have no intentions to start or endorse some other form of a student-led newspaper,” he said. “In our eyes, The Ranger is the student newspaper, and it does a fantastic job reporting the news for us.”
He continued, “The Ranger is the official student newspaper. We are not going to duplicate that.”
The college president must approve expenditures of the Student Activity Fee Committee.
Posadas on Friday would not comment on administrators’ lack of support for a student life publication. “I do not comment on the administrators’ decisions or their viewpoints,” he said.
Posadas said April 30 the “student-run” newspaper would focus primarily on online production and students would be paid to submit stories and photos.
Posadas said three Top 10 national newspapers reported earnings, but declined to name them.
“You’re going to have to do your research on that,” Posadas said.
Efforts to get Posadas to clarify what he meant were unsuccessful.
Though he suggested using NASDAQ for research, he could not comment on Friday if he used it as a point of reference. “I can’t say,” he said.
Posadas said an online publication format has more readership than print. “Formats are changing … Paper isn’t really where readership is,” he said. “I guess you also have to look at newspapers in general,” he said. “Who reads newspapers?”
Posadas said few students read The Ranger. “Well, I’m in the student center, and so I see students all day long, and most of them don’t even know there’s a student newspaper,” he said Friday.
“The readership of The Ranger is faculty, staff and district administrators — very few students — but that’s just a guess; no students ever ask me about something that came out in the newspaper,” Posadas said.
He noted conversation with Marianne Odom, media communications chair and Ranger adviser.
“Ms. Odom could not tell me the makeup of her readership. I don’t know an editor alive that can’t tell me the makeup of the readership of their magazine. They know it to the ZIP code,” Posadas said.
The Ranger prints 6,000 copies weekly and distributes them in 32 newsstands around campus, Odom said.
Until the district’s “pony express” distribution system was disrupted by district changes, copies also were sent to the other campuses and district offices.
Odom said Posadas asked her how many students read The Ranger, not the makeup of the readership.
“I don’t know exactly how many students read The Ranger each week any more than student life can tell us how many SAC students read The Current each week,” Odom said.
Posadas said $12,000 of the student activity fee goes toward advertising for events in The Current, an alternative weekly.
Previously, he has said he advertises student life events in The Current because no one reads The Ranger; however, he also has frequently claimed that the public is not allowed on campus — which is false — and that student activity fees must be used only for students.
In one more contradiction, many of those ads have included an admission fee for the general public.
Dr. Hsiang Iris Chyi, journalism professor at University of Texas at Austin, researched online readership and print readership among students ages 18 to 22. She surveyed 198 college newspaper advisers in 2011.
According to Chyi, “Approximately 93 percent of college newspaper advisers indicated that college students preferred the print edition. Only 7 percent said students preferred the Web edition.”
Reasons students prefer print newspapers, according to the study, include accessibility in campus buildings and libraries; the tangibility a print newspaper provides; and the students’ habit of picking up copies while walking around campus.
The notion of a student life publication came up in the wake of news in February a petition calling for an investigation into The Ranger’s reporting practices, signed by representatives of various clubs and organizations, for which student life maintains oversight.