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Friday, May 9, 2014

* Last year, the folks who run SIUC’s student newspaper made an agreement with University President Glenn Poshard. They’d slash costs and Poshard would reallocate a little money to keep the paper afloat until a student fee could be approved. The Undergraduate Student Government approved a $9 fee to keep the daily paper going last December, while Poshard was still in charge. Carbondale Chancellor Rita Cheng backed the fee in February. The university’s Edwardsville campus has an $8 fee for a weekly newspaper, so the Carbondale fee wasn’t out of line at all.

Well, within six days of new SIU President Randy Dunn’s taking office, he and the board of trustees nixed the fee. Really bad move.

SIUC has the most committed alumni at the Statehouse. While the U of I alumni are incredibly organized statewide and are truly feared, Salukis have a tight-knit group of folks who make sure to unofficially watch out for the university’s interests. The Senate President’s chief of staff, the House Speaker’s spokesman, and on and on and on and on. That Saluki list is really long. I’m constantly amazed by it.

I’m assuming President Dunn is hearing from those folks this week.

What a wonderful little welcoming party they’ll be planning for his next Springfield visit.

* Then there’s this

The paper’s closure would mean the end of the School of Journalism. There is no selling point without the Daily Egyptian, and future graduates will be less prepared than their peers who worked for college dailies. It renders us moot in the field of journalism; an already bleak job market.

The Daily Egyptian has former editors in prestigious positions around the country in media outlets such as the Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, USA Today Weekly Edition and Almanac of American Politics.

Several of those folks took to social media yesterday to voice their opposition to President Dunn’s move.

* I’m no fan of journalism schools. At all. But my brother Devin received great hands-on training at the DE. I’ve known several people over the years who had the same experience at the paper. To me, newspaper reporting is more like a trade. I’m not sure that extensive classroom training is hugely important, but on the job training - and especially learning from real-time, real-life mistakes - can be crucial. And the DE, by all accounts, does a very good job.

Since the chancellor was for it, and the student government was for it and the other campus has a similar fee, I really don’t see the problem with allowing this small fee to proceed.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    Strange first move by a uni president. The paper has n’t even had a chance to whack him yet.

    He might want to brush up on the Clyde “The Glide” Wingfield experience when he tried to take over The Northern Star at NIU.

  2. - John A Logan - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    As a graduate of the SIUC school of Journalism, and a longtime reader of the D.E. I hope this paper is supported. The D.E. is not a lapdog for the university either. They have done hard hitting news stories over the years. When Poshard was stumbling through his plagiarism scandal the D.E. was leading the charge.

  3. - Commonsense in Illinois - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    $9 bucks to save Gus Bode…? A deal at twice the price!

  4. - 47th Ward - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    Mandatory fees could help a lot of struggling newspapers out. Can’t they sell ads? Do DE reporters get paid?

    At least these students now know what kind of industry awaits them after graduation. Talk about valuable experience.

  5. - Makandadawg - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    I work with students and student fees supported areas everyday. The DE needs to buck up and finish the job they started. Quit wining and playing politics. Do the work necessary to get it done. Alumni wont pay this fee, students will.

  6. - Arizona Bob - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    One would assume as a minimum it could continue as a digital publication.

    On what exactly do they spend the $180K+ they expect to get from the fee? Is it mostly paper for the print version and distribution? What about advertising?

    It seems that as a minimum the publication could continue as a volunteer “club” and a prof could be assigned so that students would get credit for their efforts there as a “practicuum”.

    The journalistic community has been decimated because of bad decisions on technology, its affect on finances and reader habits, and some really awful “venture capital” moves that created ponderous debt.

    This would seem to be a good opportunity for the DE community to find a way, without government subsidy, to remain financially viable.

    We can’t expect our universities to be innovative or financially prudent, though, can we?LOL

  7. - CollegeStudent - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    I’ve found myself far more likely to read articles in the dead tree version of my local student newspaper than be bothered to look it up online. Compared to the strategically located paper racks, the online paper is out of sight (and out of mind).

  8. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    I really don’t see the problem with allowing this small fee to proceed.

    You are the expert here. Not only through your history regarding paper and print, but your real-world online journalism experiences.

    Would you recommend journalism to an interested high school student? I’m glad of my past work in print, but wouldn’t recommend investing in that field. But, again - you are the expert, Rich.

  9. - Makandadawg - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    This is big business and it is all in the SIU BOT meeting packet on their website. The fee would generate $262,000 next year. The total operating budget has shrunk to $681,400 projected for next, down from $853,000 in 2011-12. Sales have shrunk in that time from $710,500 down to $450,000 projected for next year.

  10. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    ===Would you recommend journalism to an interested high school student?===

    Not traditional, no.

  11. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    Folks, hundreds of college newspapers get some financial support from student generated fees. The Daily Illini is one such paper.

  12. - Sunshine - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    I suppose President Dunn just couldn’t resist seeing if there were really hornets in that hornet’s nest.

    Of all the things to start out with and demonstrates that he is a Rebel Without A Clue. A foolish start like that could be an early indication of ‘president done’!

  13. - jim - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    anybody suspect an element of self-interst in Dunn’s decision? one less set of eyes and source of potential criticism for him to deal with.

  14. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:52 pm:

    Not an SIU alum but this is a sickening decision to me as someone who cares about higher education and journalism.

    Student newspapers not only provide a hobby for college students but are an essential source of work experience for people pursuing careers not just in journalism but also advertising. Students need those clips or that resume filler to get the key internships and jobs to succeed post-graduation in that field. A degree from SIU is not enough because practical experience is so important and a newspaper provides that.

    That’s of course in addition to enriching the targeted community by providing the opportunity for more informed discourse and a forum that belongs to the entire university community.

    Wonder what their Public Policy Institute namesake would have to say about SIU’s decision here id he was alive to see the university shut down the DE. He was a newspaperman after all.

  15. - Keyser Soze - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:52 pm:

    President Dunn has left a bad first impression with this blogger.

  16. - I B Strapped - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:53 pm:

    Dunn was, shall we say ’sacked, from Murray State for reasons I never did understand. Not saying he had any fault as it looked like (from the outside) a lynching done in a secret meeting.

    I’m sure they thought they had their reasons though.

  17. - Steve Brown - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    Capt. Fax
    Good recap. Hopefully the future sees a quick evaluation and reversal of the decision to derail.
    Too many people worked for more than a year to put the fee in place and transition to a digital platform that embraces other media.
    Regardless of the future of dead tree publications there will always be a need to gather content on deadline, distill facts or spin and communicate in a understandable way so my Herb & Ethel or the late Bill O’Connell’s Grace & Elmer could grasp. Journalism school can provide the historical/ethical context and shortcuts to research but real time, live fire like the DE cannot be avoided or duplicated.
    The really impressive effort came from the DE student workforce who showed both a passion for the cause and a very balanced effort to report what was sprung on everyone without warning
    Stay tuned

  18. - Barton Lorimor - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    I would not have and could not have interned for Capitol Fax without the DE. (Don’t everyone race for your time machines at once.)

    Those of us DE alums have an amazing network. We still have reunions. We go to each others weddings even if they are across the country. We have been to funerals. We vacation together. We still work together professionally. There are some that still Skype with one another on a weekly basis.

    SIU has already made an investment in this network. From a purely business perspective, we may not be doctors and lawyers, but why alienate a large donor base to the College of Communications and to the University?

    = Since the chancellor was for it, and the student government was for it and the other campus has a similar fee =

    That’s exactly what makes this whole thing smell. Add in the fact that there was no discussion, nor input sought from the Chancellor or student government.

    Thanks for the post, Rich.

  19. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    Strapped, use the Google. Murray State cut him loose because the Board was tired of reading about him applying for other Uni prez jobs. They merely allowed him to devote his full time and energies to the task.

    He then goes to Youngstown State and is there all of seven months before surprising both campuses by getting the SIU spot “he never applied for.” Among the critics of this “One and Dunn” move-The DE Editorial Board.

    Sounds like a classic power play to me. Cut off the cash either for good or until you see who’s the boss. Hope it blows up in Dunn’s weasely little face. #SaveTheDE

  20. - Concerned Observer - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    Saluki MCMA alum here. Never worked for the DE, but read it daily. This is a crime, and against the best interests of the students involved and the University as a whole.

  21. - I B Strapped - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 1:17 pm:

    Yeah, Google has it AA but I watched it unfold and never did hear a reason from local press. Perhaps your explanation is why? I do respect your connection of the dots though. This guy sounds like trouble at SIU.

  22. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    Administrators and administrations with something to hide hate student newspapers.

    Yeah, Paul Simon would be appalled.

  23. - Devin Miller - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:01 pm:

    The DE changed my life for that better and I am grateful for it. Heck my wife was my copy editor back in 1999 and I could probably use her help on this post (being a photographer)! I worked there both as an undergrad and as a grad student in the late 90s and then again in the late-oughts. I am a big fan of convergence in communications departments and SIU-C has failed to make the needed changes to make this happen and bring the paper, the j-school and the MCMA department fully into the 21st century. Way too much redundancy going on in the individual MCMA departments No reason why River Region shouldn’t be working directly with the DE and vice versa … their newsroom should be a shared 21st century new media environment! Also 30K in annual online advertising is embarrassing and year-after-year it seems not much has been done to address the problem except excuses that quite frankly wouldn’t be accepted in an non-academic environment … The hands-on learning environment is essential in creating competent journalists and I am 100 percent behind the fee. With that said there needs to be changes in both how the paper is being managed and the j-school curriculum that is lagging behind other institutions. I feel that some of this has been left out of the conversation. This is an opportunity to make some radical changes to help the paper last for another century.

  24. - Kim Maisch - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    Thanks for giving this some space on your blog Rich!

  25. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:25 pm:

    Strapped, no problem. Sorry if I sounded harsh but this really grinds my gears.

  26. - Dean Keaton - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    I’m not as big an NCAA hater as most, but cutting student fees to the student newspaper while keeping fees for intercollegiate athletics is downright criminal.

  27. - plutocrat03 - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:31 pm:

    A student paper has been a part of university life. The fee seems minimal and there is no vocal opposition.

    President Dunn, please explain yourself…..

  28. - gopower63 - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    “the chancellor was for it, and the student government was for it”

    Did anyone bother to ask the students how they felt about paying yet another fee?

  29. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:33 pm:

    ===Did anyone bother to ask the students how they felt about paying yet another fee? ===

    The student government is elected, not appointed.

  30. - LINK - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:40 pm:

    I worked in the DE Business Office many (many) years ago for two years. They did sell advertising and actually pulled in fairly good revenues back then.

    There were permanent staff - my boss was Adrian Coombs if I recall correctly - and we religiously monitored expenses, accounts payable and the like. We had a pretty good payroll for students, and, of course, paper costs kept going up back then.

    I hate to read of this and sincerely hope a change of “heart” takes place soon!

  31. - CollegeStudent - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:44 pm:

    ===Did anyone bother to ask the students how they felt about paying yet another fee? ===

    The fee buys what, two meals? It isn’t even a drop in the bucket compared to the overall cost of attending school at any of Illinois’s colleges and universities. Shoot, I kick in more money to the athletic department kitty in fees than season tickets for all ticket-taking sports would cost.

  32. - Motambe - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:48 pm:

    As an SIUC alum, and one who is cheering for Randy Dunn to be successful, I think he and the BOT crapped in their bed. This is a mess. DE alum and SIUC Journalism grads occupy a lot of media positions nation-wide. This may be a new hurdle for the Foundation and Alumni Association to clear.

  33. - CollegeStudent - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:48 pm:

    ===He then goes to Youngstown State and is there all of seven months before surprising both campuses by getting the SIU spot “he never applied for.” Among the critics of this “One and Dunn” move-The DE Editorial Board. ===

    Wow, I guess Jim Tressel is an upgrade for Youngstown State after all.

  34. - Just a citizen - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    Do the fee, but tie it to required changes. You just can’t keep using the same methods you’ve used for 20 years. Establish a group to review the DE operations and recommend changes. I can think of a few things…sell more ads, use the presses to print other publications, adopt some of the ideas suggested by the commenters and listen to the recommendations made by the committee. You have to adapt to the times if you are going to survive and the students should learn that during their time at a university. I wish the DE many more years providing valuable experience to the students at SIU.

  35. - John Patterson - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 3:12 pm:

    Getting red-penned by a prof is one thing. Putting your work out there for thousands of strangers to ridicule, correct, etc., is an entirely different learning experience regardless of what career path you take in life. #savetheDE

  36. - Milo - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 3:15 pm:

    The DE has a long storied past. What in the hell is the board and president thinking? Many people in the Carbondale-Murphysboro areas read the DE. Not just students.

  37. - anon - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 3:44 pm:

    Dunn better learn to stand up to the SIU board of trustees with all of its goofy Quinn appointees–if he doesn’t, he’ll be gone as soon as Gov Rauner clears out all of Quinn’s idiotic choices. Its no wonder Poshard walked away,

  38. - Bring Back Boone's - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 3:50 pm:

    Keep the pressure on them! Stuff like this blog post really rattles them and helps to sway opinion. Keep up the fight.

  39. - gopower63 - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    You think the student government represents students’ opinions??! Where did you go to school, Rich?

    I’d be stunned if voter turnout in the last SG election there was more than 15%.

    - Rich Miller - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 2:33 pm:

    ===Did anyone bother to ask the students how they felt about paying yet another fee? ===

    The student government is elected, not appointed.

  40. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 4:26 pm:

    -Dunn better learn to stand up to the SIU Board of Trustees with all of its goofy Quinn appointees-

    Not likely. Those goofy appointees blew up a search to put him there.

  41. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 5:00 pm:

    ===You think the student government represents students’ opinions?===

    I was student president at SSU, so you might wanna back off.

    ===I’d be stunned if voter turnout in the last SG election there was more than 15%.===

    I got into a bit of a battle with my university president back in those days and he brought up student turnout, too. I told him I had received a whole lot more votes than he did. Kinda killed his argument.

    Also, what was statewide turnout on primary day this year? 20 percent? But I bet it was far lower for Democrats.

    Elections are elections. If people don’t vote, that’s their problem.

  42. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 7:00 pm:

    I know comments are closed, but I’ve had a busy day. I need to comment.

    As a Saluki, I was an avid DE reader for 6+ years and then again when I returned to work in southern Illinois for a 5 year stint. I have been on college campuses all around the country and the DE is one of the best student newspapers I have read. I still make it a point to grab a copy whenever I pass through C-dale.

    Many, probably most, students on campus pick up the paper as they walk to class or relax between classes. $9 is less than any subscription I can think of and most students do “subscribe.” A very small price to pay for an excellent paper.

  43. - CommoNoob - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 9:31 pm:

    Wasn’t Poshard going to advise Dunn during the transition? Wouldn’t you think he would have informed him on the potential backlash of scraping the DE? Unless that is he wanted gone just as bad…

  44. - Anon - Friday, May 9, 14 @ 9:42 pm:

    The DE exposed the blown up search, including the role Trustee Mannering played. Dunn was Mannering’s dissertation advisor. This is nothing more than retribution

  45. - DE Employee - Saturday, May 10, 14 @ 9:23 am:

    Lots of great responses and questions - let me address two.

    1) Sell more ads. - Folks, sell ads is not like simply going to the store and buying bread. Carbondale is declining population as is the student population. Businesses are closing. WHO do we sell the ads to? That demographic has been slashed in recent years. I’d challenge the Carbondale Community!! **BUY** more ads.

    2) Use the press for other publications. GREAT IDEA! We’d love to do just that. Oops! Union and University regulations do not allow us to run the press. - Another University Regulation we were specifically called down about: DE can’t drive the Circulation Trucks on campus sidewalks (which happens between 3am and 6am) because we want a beautiful campus. This increases circulation costs as papers must be walked to destinations or other inefficient methods of delivery are used.

    Find other answers and budget info:

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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