Green is the Color of Death for UTA’s Newspaper

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Posted September 2, 2009 by eric.griffey in Blotch

A resolution introduced during the last meeting of the University of Texas at Arlington’s student congress called for the university’s award-winning newspaper The Shorthorn to discontinue its printed circulation, and exist only online. “The Mavs Go Green and Use Web 2.0″ resolution was introduced on the grounds that it would be good for the environment — ignoring the dozens of environmental stories the paper regularly publishes.

The paper, which seems to win a handful of awards every year, and is one of the most well-reputed student run newspapers in the country, currently prints 8,000 copies at a printing cost of $236,000. The paper generates $485,000 in ad revenue, according to records. There are also numerous scholarships and internships (several at the Fwweekly) given to Shorthorn staffers; and the university uses its newspaper as a recruiting tool for potential students.

For the last several years, UTA has been trying to brand itself, dumping thousands of dollars into the laps of consultants, in an effort to shake its image as a commuter school. If the student congress passes this resolution, they would be killing a dynasty, and branded by many as a joke. A school trying to find its identity shouldn’t even be considering killing one of its most recognizable and respected institutions. And that’s precisely what this resolution would do.


10 Comments


  1.  
    Vin

    The student congress is further showing its irrelevance. When there are more pressing issues that students care more about such as parking or tuition costs they go after an award winning institution that has done nothing but good for the university. It shows almost how pointless and bored the congress is by trying to shut down the newspaper. I hope and pray that this resolution is treated like it should be, a joke.




  2.  
    rich

    Why is this so wrong? The future of the industry is not on paper.
    I wish my school had taught me more about emerging technologies and taught me to be open minded about changes in our industry. I watched the job I wanted to do my entire life disappear off the face of the earth just when I finally attained it. I’m now (gasp) an on-line reporter. And I’m not sure it’s the future, it may not be. But things change and we need to accept that and teach those students that too. Or maybe we don’t need to teach that to them, it sounds like they’ve figures it out themselves.




  3.  
    The Bear

    Rich,

    For one, college newspapers are all about experience. Getting rid of the print version won’t give them near as much of it, and they’ll be a lot less likely to get jobs coming out of school. They already have an online product, so they’ll get that experience either way. Secondly, college students won’t read the online version as much. They’re too busy twittering and gaming. A lot of the goings on at UTA will go unnoticed by the student body. College students, by and large, are a strange combo of lazy and busy. Thirdly, the paper will not be eligible for all of those neat awards that they win year after year, and make the university look so good.

    You’re confusing for-profit news convergence with a college paper. The models are totally different. Profit is not the goal. You wouldn’t be teaching those students any life lesson, other than UTA isn’t serious about their student’s future.

    As for your situation, a lot of great reporters are doing the online thing these days. But those who went to J school got to learn on a real, honest to goodness newspaper. It’s nonsense to say that killing a college newspaper’s print edition is teaching them anything. You’re just bitter. Go get some ice cream.




  4.  
    werkin

    Well put, Bear. A balance in preparing their students to work in print and online would produce a more well-rounded graduate. Having watched UTA improve it’s image, as well as the credibility that the Shorthorn affords the school, it would be a disgraceful shame to see them now toss all of that into the cr*pper.




  5.  
    Andrea

    “College students won’t read the online version as much. They’re too busy twittering and gaming. A lot of the goings on at UTA will go unnoticed by the student body.” — EXACTLY!

    I’ve probably visited the Shorthorn website all of seven times in the -four years- I’ve been enrolled, but that was so I could find old articles which I saw when they were printed… not because I randomly felt the urge to browse a website about UTA in my spare time. No offense journalism majors, but I have a facebook account, so if I want some e-news about the UTA I’m familiar with I’ll go there. They email me updates– OH WAIT! The Trailblazer?!

    Now I’m getting campus updates right to my campus email? No wonder ‘no one feels like they need to check the actual newspaper for ‘whats going on’, anymore’. Lets try to think logically about this: People are getting information thrown at them in email updates about ‘whats going on’ on campus yet this scant number of events published in the email updates pales to what the Shorthorn can and does advertise each week. Students are going to get the idea that they
    1. Don’t need to look any further to discover whats happening – that’s all the email said, after all!
    2. There isn’t anything else happening on campus – the email didn’t mention them…
    3. There isn’t anything pretaining to their interests on campus – small groups are trying to pander to these, but small groups have no hope for being listed in the campus-wide emails.

    With so many student groups pining to get better attendance at their events, this isn’t only a killing blow for the essence that is the Shorthorn, but for the small clubs around campus as well.

    Thats a big point for me because I’m the president of a new club which just finally got it’s footing, we’re small, but we have a lot of great ideas for events with a scholarly objective. I want to improve UTA, and I believe my group will help at least in a small way, but ALL of the officers are graduating this May, so to ensure that the club and all of our hard work survives after us I’m going to have to advertise like a mad woman just to drum up interest. I need a reliable, readily available, and easy medium to get my club’s message out there… Something that someone can read at their leisure, where my ad can be published affordably, talked about among friends and maybe just catch someone’s eye as they skim the pages for something else.

    It’s a sad thing that the Shorthorn’s readership is down, especially when the quality has never been better, but we have to be realistic here: Yes, journalism majors need to know how to do their magic in a digital environment and medium, but the Shorthorn isn’t The New York Times. It isn’t even the Dallas Morning News… The majority of students are not going to go out of their way to check out whats going around UTA even if you send them a link. I would like some ice cream.




  6.  
    Eric G

    Andrea,

    You’re points are all well taken, but I think you’re forgetting one of the major functions of a college newspaper: to be a voice for students, and a check on authority. Those who rely on email alerts are being fed info by administrators. The Shorthorn is the only formal and consistent check on those administrators — not to mention the best way to get info to the whole student body quickly. Administrators are less likely to abuse their authority when there’s a newspaper reporter hanging around. (Though that hasn’t been the case for the mayor of FW).

    You’re absolutely right that students won’t go to their site as often as they would read the paper. Most of the students I’ve seen reading the printed version do so while waiting for class or eating lunch. For them, it may just be a way to kill time, but they’re actually getting caught up on current events in the process. Ice cream does sound good.




  7.  
    JRS

    I just want to know who authored this, and which Senator supported this bill. Believe me if this passes, Mavericks will be SEEING GREEN! That’s not a good thing.




  8.  
    Qlyph

    This might be the best thing to happen to readership in a long time!

    It would be great if SC folks wore a badge and we could pick up a copy of the paper every day and conspicuously read it in front of them!

    Maybe everyone who values the paper could go to the UC around lunch time every day, pick up a copy of the paper, and walk out to the west entrance outside the Shorthorn office, and just open up the paper big and see what’s in it, then move on (and recycle the paper when finished). The SC (and administration) would see how many supporters there are, and so would the rest of the campus.




  9.  

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Thank you for taking an interest in UT Arlington Student Congress resolution 09-15. I would like to take some time to share with you some information about this resolution.

    Resolution 09-15 is one of three sustainability resolutions that I authored during the summer of 2009. They were introduced to Student Congress in the beginning of the fall semester at UT Arlington, as that governing body does not meet during the summer.

    I am no longer a student at UT Arlington, nor am I currently affiliated with the UT Arlington Student Congress. In fact, the only person that may officially speak on behalf of the UT Arlington Student Congress is the President of Student Congress. Any person, whether they are a member of the UT Arlington community or not, can author a resolution, but only a Student Congress Senator may sponsor and introduce it. If a resolution has a sponsor and has been introduced, Student Congress is obligated to research it.

    This does not mean that all or even the majority of members in Student Congress agree with or support it. Furthermore, if the Student Congress passes a resolution, that resolution and all related research are then forwarded to various administrators and finally the University President. Student Congress acts as the voice of the student body, but the ultimate decision rests with the University President.

    I would encourage everyone to read the resolution carefully and let the language speak for itself. The intent behind this resolution is not to put any student or staff member out of a job, infringe on the freedom of the press, create a controversy, or draw any negative attention to the University.

    During the 2008 – 2009 academic year, I had the privilege and opportunity to serve on the Student Service Advisory Committee (SSAC), to which I was elected by the UT Arlington student body. This committee, composed of nine (some elected and some appointed) students, is charged with sitting in on budget presentations for various student service oriented departments (including Student Publications) and ultimately recommending to the University President how to appropriate the nearly six million dollars of student service funds.

    After serving on this committee and learning about the sustainability initiatives at UT Arlington called “Mavericks Go Green,” I wrote resolutions 09-15, 09-19 and 09-20.

    I would like to thank the Executive Board of Student Congress and the staff of Student Governance at UT Arlington for fielding all related questions about resolution 09-15. I know that it has been a busy couple of weeks and I sincerely appreciate all of your hard work. I commend and recognize these individuals who work tirelessly every day to better the University of Texas at Arlington to the best of their abilities.

    At the end of the day, if all these resolutions accomplish is discussion of waste reduction at UT Arlington, I will consider them successful. There are many ways to “go green” and I hope you keep my humble suggestions in mind.

    Thank you for your time and GO MAVS!

    Sincerely,
    Bess Alvarez
    Proud Maverick Alumna and avid reader of The Shorthorn




  10.  
    Josh

    This is awesome! I cant do my homework because its online and i dont have a computer. I would use the schools resources but not only did they get rid of ransom hall for freshmen purposes, they admitted too many people this semester. There is never a computer open, let alone parking spaces so i can even get to class! UTA is as good as dead to me. They WILL NOT think of their students. Im not paying for the freshmen to do well! Now the 7-11 is gone so i cant buy cigarettes during school without loosing my spot that people will wreck with me for. But I guess thats cool because they are going to ban smoking too. And now I wont even get to read the newspaper anymore..

    Also, 3 out of 4 of my teachers cant speak english… great





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