No jobs? Prospective journalists soldier on

Editor-in-Chief Maddy Arrowood, a senior journalism and American history major, checks pages of The Daily Tar Heel at the paper’s office in North Carolina. (AP)
Updated 05 November 2019

No jobs? Prospective journalists soldier on

  • college journalism educators are changing the way they teach in a race against obsolescence

NEW YORK: The Daily Orange isn’t daily anymore.

The student-run newspaper that has covered Syracuse University since 1903, and trained generations of journalists, now prints three issues per week. Editor-in-Chief Haley Robertson wonders where she’ll find advertisers, worries about firing friends, and searches for alumni donors who will pay to send reporters on the road to cover the university’s sports teams.

These are problems not unlike those that bedevil executives two or three times her age — evidence of how the news industry’s woes have seeped onto campuses that try to harness youthful energy and idealism to turn out professionals who can inform the world.

Meanwhile, college journalism educators are changing the way they teach in a race against obsolescence. They’re emphasizing versatility and encouraging a spirit of entrepreneurship.

After some brutal years, there are signs of life. Much as the journalistic pursuit of a crooked president in the 1970s inspired a generation, another leader who denounces reporters as enemies on a nearly daily basis has given birth to a new resolve: Enrollment in journalism programs is up.

“When I look at local news and see what’s happening, I’m pessimistic,” said Kathleen Culver, journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “When I look at 18- and 20-year-olds and see what they want to do, I’m optimistic.”

Thousands of young journalists train for the future on a dual track, in classrooms and in student-run newsrooms that are models for the places they hope to work someday.

For Robertson, that means hours a day in a dingy office with yellowed headlines glued to the wall, metal file cabinets signed by editors dating back nearly 50 years and a ripped upholstered couch carried from the Daily Orange’s old office, now a parking lot.

College publications occasionally make national news while chronicling the rhythms of campus life, as happened this fall when Arizona State University’s student newspaper had a scoop on the resignation of Kurt Volker, US envoy to the Ukraine. 

Volker runs Arizona State’s McCain Institute.

Daily Orange in 2018 first posted video of racist and sexist comments made at a Syracuse fraternity, leading to embarrassing headlines for the university across the country. Robertson’s managing editor, Catherine Leffert, sat on the floor at a campus meeting as that story swirled, tapping out updates on her mobile phone, and slept on the office couch in two-hour intervals. The fraternity was suspended.

Journalists of all ages understand the adrenaline rush.

“Seeing the layoffs and seeing newsroom cutbacks is really disheartening,” Leffert said. “But what keeps me wanting to be a journalist and wanting to do it here is seeing the effect that the D.O. has. It’s really cool and exciting.”

Few college publications have shut down the way local newspapers in towns and cities across the country have, said Chris Evans, president of the College Media Association and adviser to the University of Vermont newspaper. Many are supported by student fees and pay their staff members little if anything.

Thirty-five percent of school papers say they’ve have reduced the frequency of print issues to save money, according to a CMA survey taken earlier this year. Five percent have gone online-only, as the University of Maryland’s Diamondback said that it would do early next year. Half of the newspapers that haven’t abandoned paper, like the Daily Orange, say they’re not printing as many copies.

Robertson touts the transition as a way to follow the industry by going more digital, and the D.O. has an active web site and social media presence. Yet there’s only so much staff members can do. They are students, after all.

The University of North Carolina’s Daily Tar Heel switched to three days a week in 2017 when its directors suddenly realized they were going broke, said Maddy Arrowood, the paper’s editor-in-chief. The newspaper cut the pay of staff members and moved into a new, smaller office above a restaurant.

The Daily Tar Heel is testing out newsletters targeted at people with special interests, and its reporters are trying to attract off-campus readers and advertisers by covering news in the surrounding community of Chapel Hill, N.C.

“I spend most of my time very aware of our financial situation,” Arrowood said. “We’re always trying to tell the newsroom that your goal is to produce the best content that you can and be an indispensable resource for our readers.”

One small victory: Last year the Daily Tar Heel reported a tiny profit.

Struggling with a $280,000 debt, the Hilltop at Howard University printed its first edition this semester in mid-October. The Maneater at the University of Missouri used to print twice a week, then once. Now it’s down to once a month. It operates separately from a newspaper run by faculty and students that covers the town of Columbia.

Staff members are now charged annual dues — in other words, they must pay to work there, said Leah Glasser, the paper’s editor. They can avoid the dues if they find an alumni sponsor or sell enough advertising to cover it.

The paper has a web site, and Glasser and her staff are slowly getting used to the new monthly schedule.ƒst


Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf becomes first female editor of Financial Times

Updated 12 November 2019

Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf becomes first female editor of Financial Times

  • Khalaf has served as deputy editor, foreign editor and Middle East editor during her more than two decades at FT
  • Khalaf will join Katharine Viner at the Guardian as one of the few women to edit major newspapers in Britain

LONDON: Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf will become the first woman to edit the Financial Times in its 131-year history after Lionel Barber, Britain’s most senior financial journalist, said he would step down.
Barber said on Tuesday he would leave in January after 14 years as editor and 34 years at the Nikkei-owned newspaper, which had one million paying readers in 2019, with digital subscribers accounting for more than 75% of total circulation.
Khalaf has served as deputy editor, foreign editor and Middle East editor during her more than two decades at the salmon-pink FT and in recent years has sought to increase diversity in the newsroom and attract more female readers, while also becoming the publication’s first Arab editor.
“It’s a great honor to be appointed editor of the FT, the greatest news organization in the world.
“I look forward to building on Lionel Barber’s extraordinary achievements,” said Khalaf, whose earlier writing for Forbes magazine had earned her a small role in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Her article described the leading character Jordan Belfort as sounding like a twisted version of Robin Hood who takes from the rich and gives to himself and his merry band of brokers.
Khalaf will join Katharine Viner at the Guardian as one of the few women to edit major newspapers in Britain and one of few leading female editors in the world after Jill Abramson left the New York Times.
Before joining the FT in 1995, Khalaf worked at Forbes in New York and earned a master’s at Columbia University and graduated from Syracuse University.
Tsuneo Kita, chairman of Japan’s Nikkei which bought the FT from Pearson in 2015, said in a statement Khalaf was chosen for her sound judgment and integrity.
“We look forward to working closely with her to deepen our global media alliance.”
Nikkei’s Kita described Barber as a strategic thinker and true internationalist, adding he was very sad to see him leave.
“However, both of us agree it is time to open a new chapter,” he said.
During his time as editor, Barber engineered a successful push into online subscription that protected the title as others battled an unprecedented collapse in advertising revenue, as well as managing the move to a new owner.