College Newspapers as a Non-Profit Journalism Example

Name a major college; now, quickly, if you’re a journalism type, name its paper.

Student Weekly/Daily geekery aside, I do owe a lot of my interest in media to my history of writing and tracking my campus papers. I did my first writing as a high school student in Phoenix for Brophy Prep’s Roundup, where, in 2000, I wrote a 1,200 word feature on Napster and the rise of social sharing of media. Maybe I’ll get that up on Scribd over the holidays when I’m home.

For four years at my alma mater, I also contributed on occasion to Boston College’s Heights (congratulations to the weekly on celebrating it’s 90th anniversary this month). As noted in past posts, the infamous journalist cousin of mine is also a veteran of the college paper world, a former editor-in-chief of Arizona State’s State Press. Without further examples, I hope you get the point, I’m a fan of the campus press, so an article on Media Shift about its future is certainly worth noting.

Here’s what got me thinking: the campus newspaper is an interesting intersection of non-profit journalism. Whether independent and non-affiliated or University supported organizations, the labor is free, local ads support printing and distribution, and that’s about it. The value for the young, aspiring journalist is a place to write; the value for the good paper on a campus is the opportunity to set conversation (under the watch of a good friend, I saw the BC Heights rise to this level of relevancy).

Let’s get back to that Media Shift piece, because something stood out to me, likely since it involved another portion of my interests: copyright:

The other option would be for college media outlets to do something that might seem radical: use Creative Commons to license their content for non-commercial use, and thereby let other college news outlets have access to their work. At this point, I’m not aware of any college media outlet that has taken the Creative Commons route, although I’ve had listserv discussions with fellow advisers about the concept. The usual argument against a CC license is one that’s been heard before: The content is too valuable for this approach.

Now, it seems to me that Media Shift is actually marginally skeptical about the CC approach, (the next line is “the ‘value’ of articles in a college newspaper is a topic for another day,” so take that context for what its worth). I think this is a nothing-to-lose case study and I’d be in full support of any college newspaper who pushed hard to get their work into the public marketplace that extends beyond their own gates and ivies.

Photo credit: (cc) Flickr user numstead

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