A response to wages reinstatement

Matt+Bird-Meyer

Matt Bird-Meyer

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By MATT BIRD-MEYER
Faculty Adviser
President Chuck Ambrose has a sort of running joke with the incoming managing editors at the Muleskinner.
It’s not so much a funny-ha-ha joke but a friendly commentary on the state of the news industry: “So how much longer are you all going to keep printing the paper?” or something along those lines.
And it’s a valid question that everyone in the newspaper industry is either asking one another or thinking to themselves as they post stories from the field, shoot video, live tweet, livestream via Facebook and schedule mobile app push notifications.
But more importantly, the president’s question speaks to his genuine interest in a vibrant, sustainable and relevant campus news operation. He knows staff members by name, he references prior published stories to compliment or critique, and he makes time to answer questions.
The newspaper addresses tough issues, faces pushback from time to time, and makes its share of mistakes. That’s part of the process of news work. I think it’s clear, based on my previous experiences and from recent events, that our administration understands and appreciates this process.
Newspapers help sustain communities. They serve the public trust. And they help us celebrate our achievements, uplift the marginalized, and interpret information as our world grows increasingly complex every day.
A campus newspaper has the added pedagogical benefit of allowing students to experience these functions firsthand, outside of the classroom. When the university president asks students poignant questions about the future of your industry, that pedagogical experience grows even richer.
So, it’s a big deal when a community loses its voice.
And that’s why it was so heartening for me to hear firsthand from the president about the support he and his leadership team have for our campus newspaper.
The circumstances that led to the Muleskinner budget cut are painful and convoluted. It’s pointless to dwell on that.
The important thing is that once the administration became fully aware of these circumstances, they acted swiftly. Although the newspaper will not be printed this year, the students will be compensated for the hard work they put in to help sustain our campus community.
We hoped to have our newly redesigned website running by the start of school, but it’s more important that we deliver a useable and functional site than rush the work. What’s exciting is our new managing editor, Jacque Flanagan, has substantial ownership in the new website. She worked all summer with my colleague Eric Newsom on this project, enhancing her already strong design skills while learning more about open-source content management systems like WordPress and a good amount of coding as well.
That’s going to look great on a resume and portfolio. That’s what this college experience is all about.
Our goal is to converge our student media channels into digitalBURG.com, which is currently the primary website for the Muleskinner. The new site will feature the Muleskinner for news, the Beat for online radio, and CentralTV for original, student-produced TV programming.
The students have some great ideas. And I think they are re-energized by the support they received from the administration to continue their work, implement these ideas, and leave here with the multimedia skills and experience that employers demand.