In the April 24 school news section, I read that The Communicator, IPFW’s student newspaper, received 11 awards from the Indiana Collegiate Press Association. As a former editor-in-chief, it is clear to me that the students who continue to produce the paper are excelling, even in trying times.
In 2011, I won second place for “Best News Feature Story” in the same award contest. I would not have been able to do this without the mentorship and support system that the student paper fostered for me during the time I worked there.
As it turns out, my experiences paid off. Today, two years after graduation, I work as a staff writer for a larger newspaper, The Toledo Blade. I doubt I would have gotten to this position without the immense experience I was able to bring to the table after working in management at The Communicator.
The leadership skills I gained have highly impacted my current success, and I will always be grateful that my professional start was at that student newspaper. But I don’t think I can say this for future students. Times have changed, and the world of journalism continues to evolve. The university’s student government has reduced the paper’s portion of student fees and I suspect more cuts are on the way. I understand that the push is for more newspapers to go digital, and I have spent the past five years watching this evolve in student papers and larger publications.
However, I think it’s shortsighted to allow the paper to completely fold and close up. Students need experience working in both print media and digital media. It’s not a one-or-the-other option, which is why I think the university’s student government might be wrong. If the student paper is left to fall apart like the university’s journalism department did when I was a student, then I think IPFW is doing a major disservice to students.