Wednesday, July 2, 2008

So Long NU News

The Northeastern News is no longer. Starting in September Northeastern's 82-year-old on-campus publication will officially become a nonprofit corporation and be completely independent of the University. It will also undertake a new name, "The Huntington News."

The article announcing the news today, The News goes independent, was necessarily positive and sourced Boston Globe Pulitzer Prize-winning professor Walter Robinson and NU VP of Student Affairs Ed Klotzbier as being in favor of the change.

"The main focus of the coverage of the newspaper … is the university itself and the administration of the university," Robinson said. "The important thing for the university and for The News and for journalism is that it be independent of any control by the people that you're covering."

Ed Klotzbier, vice president of student affairs, said he believes The News' move from being a student group to a nonprofit corporation is an evolutionary process that shows the entrepreneurial spirit that Northeastern looks to instill in its students.

"I think this move by the [Northeastern] News to go independent is a great example of experiential learning," Klotzbier said. "It's the caliber of today's Northeastern student. I would have to say I'm impressed and proud."

As a former News Editor of the paper, I can't say I'm surprised by this announcement. When Ricky Thompson was elected editor-in-chief last year this was something he started by changing the paper from publishing once to twice a week.

We won't know until all is said and done, but the success of the paper could really go either way. I'm concerned that the quality of the paper may suffer, and I wonder if The News will just lose some of the college audience and likely not gain much of the community readers. I heard complaints from friends and classmates who lost interest in the paper during the twice-a-week change. For many NU students the paper has always just been something that held the "Crime Log" and the Sudoku.

In a Letter-to-the-Editor, Ricky Thompson and Ed Klotzbier assures the student body that the change is only in the name.
Accomplishing this next step will be a credit to the legacy that Northeastern has developed in fostering an experiential education for its students. Producing a student newspaper remains one of the best experiences in journalism, advertising and business available in a college setting. As an independent corporation, The Huntington News will be a model for integrating classroom learning with real-world experience, central to the university's mission since 1898.

Besides the new name, you won't notice any major differences with your newspaper when the first issue is published in September. It will still be available at all the same spots on campus, and the coverage will still focus on the same topics relevant to Northeastern.

The article pointed out that Boston College, Boston University and Harvard already have independent, student-run publications, but the key difference there is that the school is still in the name and at the top of the coverage.

I'm also concerned about how the paper will maintain a staff. If the paper isn't a student group are freshman going to feel welcome? The News office is full of about a hundred new reporters every September for the first meeting of the year, but is it going to be too much to ask the new students to seek out the new office at 295 Huntington Ave.

As well all know these are tough, dangerous times for the newspaper industry, but college papers have continued to strive because they have a built in audience and a built in advertising base. The industry is heading towards more and more multimedia oriented coverage (a place where The Northeastern News has always been behind) and this may be something needed to help the independent Huntington News flourish, yet there was no mention of the Web site in the article.

I wish this new endeavor the best of luck; I'd love to see an independent newspaper succeed. Although it will be strange to be in the student center and not see an office where I spent so many hours these past years, hopefully The News' presence will only increase on-campus overall.

I will continue to update on the new changes that are sure to arrive, I'm expecting they will soon have news about a Web site as well as a complete paper redesign. The summer is always a hard time to find staff with so many students off-campus, but I'm sure the students at The Huntington News will be working overtime for the big unveiling in September.

1 comment:

Romulus said...

Maybe this means that the News will finally have better spelling and fact-checking.

I suppose the dual roles of both covering campus news and providing an experiential resource for amateur JRNs weren't necessarily compatible. Is there still a Student Media Group? There'll be a place for not-profiting publishing for as long as there's a J school.