By Steve Outing
Back in the dark ages of my college years, I was a reporter and managing editor of the Rocky Mountain Collegian, the student newspaper at Colorado State University. (How dark? Reporters used electric typewriters and copy was taken to the composition department to be set into cold type.)
So it was with interest that I saw today that the Collegian might enter into a strategic partnership with Gannett’s The Coloradoan, Fort Collins’ commercial daily. According to this report in MediaDailyNews, “In effect, Gannett would be buying the paper. As the rest of the newspaper industry takes a beating, Gannett’s interest reflects the continued popularity of campus papers — and their importance to advertisers targeting young adults.”
Talks are preliminary, and a Collegian “takeover” is not imminent.
Here’s a report from the Collegian itself.
Perhaps that is a smart move by newspapers, though I see value in an independent student press, and worry that corporate interest would influence student media in a negative way. I remember my Collegian days as free-wheeling, where we sometimes took stupid or naive chances that most likely wouldn’t happen with corporate oversight. Those were great learning experiences. I’m not sure that the student-media culture is a proper fit with big corporate media.
I hadn’t taken a look at The Collegian’s website recently, but I see that it’s pretty standard and could be more innovative. This is the topic of another blog entry some day, but it’s unfortunate that student newspapers like The Collegian aren’t experimenting vigorously — and helping lead the newspaper industry to a new model that might work in the years ahead. One possible plus to corporate involvement could be to provide resources for more innovation — but I’d rather see the university’s journalism program (which I graduated from so long ago) be the one to push that.