Staff Editorial: Changing the precedent of funding for media organizations symbolizes institutional ‘support’ for student journalism
The impacts of student media on the DC community are widely commemorated, but the foundation of that work is losing encouragement from administrators
Editor's note: As a student media organization, The Eagle receives its funding allocation from the Center for Student Involvement.
Recent decisions in not granting undergraduate activity fee funding to student media organizations for the fall 2022 semester have left many student journalists doubting the American University’s commitment to the success of its community members.
One of the biggest appeals of the University is its top-ranked School of Communication program and the extensive professional development that it provides for undergraduate and graduate students. According to AU’s graduation census data, 90 percent of undergraduate students within SOC are working or in graduate school with employers such as CNN and The Washington Post. The successes of SOC alumni are publicized in University communications, but the support for the journey that it took to attain those accomplishments is almost devoid.
The low prioritization of the proper funding for student journalism and the treatment of reporters signifies how the University truly sees the value and importance of student work. In previous years, reporters were able to directly email individuals from the University for interviews, and they would receive a response in a timely fashion directly from that individual. Now, students are directed to fill out a form and sometimes have to wait approximately 10 business days to schedule an interview.
Removing the stipend for student media leaders brings a greater likelihood of driving low-income students away from participating in on-campus media organizations and fulfilling creative pursuits. Without direct incentive for the labor that is put into contributing to a large-scale publication, the amount of effort and care that’s usually placed into reporting may dwindle, as students may assume that their contributions aren’t important.
Being involved in this type of media grants student journalists the responsibility to accurately report the stories of individuals’ experiences, which comes with a high level of risk, as publishing incorrect information can have serious repercussions.
To restore confidence in the administration’s use of power would require the Center for Student Involvement to provide financial transparency about the factors that have led to their decision. Currently, the sustainability of student publications is uncertain as their primary financial sources shift to rollover money, and there is little information on hitting a cap in money reserves. In addition, SOC faculty have a responsibility to publicly reaffirm their support for student journalism work and the fruitful contributions it has made to the community.
Student Media Board being the only Club Council group absent from undergraduate activity fee funding fuels a potential feud between student organizations in competition over whose work is of greater value to the community.