Addendum to the Newspaper Post

At the danger of encouraging an echo chamber, we wanted to post an addendum to our look at the state of college newspapers. In the post, we said:

If the Collegian finds itself short of funds, then it could always ask the University for a greater subsidy, but the chances of a successful result are extremely low.

Editor-in-Chief Terry Casey commented on his blog about our post.

This is a common misconception about The Daily Collegian, but the organization does not receive any subsidies from Penn State. Many college newspapers are funded by their schools, but the Collegian is financially independent. It’s one of very few independent school papers in the country.

The only money that we receive from Penn State is part of an annual contract that sells papers to the school daily, making the Collegian free for you on campus. It also means that, as the editor in chief, I have the final say on all of our coverage, and we do not face any censorship from the university.

Terry’s correction stands: the Collegian does not recieve a subsidy form the University. It does however, as Terry states, recieve a payment from the University in return for the papers distributed on campus. As such, though the University does not directly fund the Collegian, there is a substantial financial link between the Collegian and the University. The Collegian is not independent to the extent that it could survive if the University did not want it to; no worries though, the University almost certainly wants the Collegian to survive.

We have more analysis after the jump.

There were two comments on the original post that we’d like to highlight here. The first was from Tom Shakely, Founder of Safeguard Old State and the Executive Director of The Lion 90.7fm.

Eli, Penn State is a nearly $4 billion dollar annual operation — if The Daily Collegian needs a few hundred thousand extra or even a few million extra, you can bet the administration will step in to make up the difference.

Financially, it’s a drop in the bucket, and the cost of losing The Collegian as the campus newspaper would be a much, *much* bigger blow to PSU and its reputation as a whole than the dollar cost to provide greater financial assistance.

He’s right. The Collegian is to Penn State as the auto industry is to America. I think the analogy is pretty apt. Both institutions (the Collegian, or really the entire news industry, and the auto industry) are being threatened by creative destruction. Nonetheless, both institutions are hallmarks of the University and the United States respectively. In other words, the Collegian is indeed too big to fail. We certainly cannot provide comprehensive reporting to the extent that it can.

George Chriss’ comment notes the complexity of the issue.

The ways in which money, traditional media, and digital culture interact is a complex topic deserving of comprehensive analysis.

We are attending the Collegian’s board meeting this evening, and hope to learn a bit more about how its finances are holding up to the double whammy of the faltering economy and the proliferation of Internet technologies.

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About the Author


Creator of @OnwardState. Big fan of sweaters.

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