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Save Student Media

$16,480 of $125,000 goal

Raised by 71 people in 3 months
For 103 years, SMU students have published an independent newspaper. That tradition will die within weeks if we do not step forward to save it.

The short story is that the Student Media Company, which publishes the Daily Campus newspaper and the Rotunda Yearbook, has run out of operating funds. All of you in the news industry know parts of the longer story—the decline of traditional ad revenue, disappointing revenue from online ad sales, and a general decline in readership. There are other factors specific to the Student Media Company, such as the loss of student activity fees once collected by the university, and a period of competition with a university-funded online publication.

That online competition morphed in recent years to a joint “collaboration.”  Now, the university, through the journalism department, has negotiated to take over the online smudailycampus.com. No plans exist at the moment to continue the Rotunda yearbook. Student Media’s KPNI radio station had already ceased broadcasting. 

We, the Friends of Student Media, believe fervently in the value of an independent student press. Most of us are alumni of the Daily Campus or Rotunda, and we each have stories to tell of the university’s efforts to quash coverage it did not like or to exercise prior restraint. We refuse to sit by idly and allow the Student Media Company to fold, taking with it a century-long tradition of independent student reporting. Our goal is to raise $125,000 to cover Student Media’s operating costs for the next school year. During that time, we will work with the Student Media Board to restructure the company with development and business plans that will give the Company true independence and a sustainable future.

If you believe, like we do, that college students do some of their best learning through zealous investigation, regardless of their major… If you believe, like we do, that an independent press serves a vital role in a private university community not subject to open-records or other transparency requirements applicable to public institutions… If you believe, like we do, that journalism should remain free from spin and the control of a university-funded news lab… then, #PonyUp. 

If you donated $100 and got two friends to do so, we could save the paper in a matter of days. Please give Student Media the funds it needs to restructure itself for future success.  https://friendsofstudentmedia.com
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Friends of Student Media met with members of the Student Media Company Board yesterday in an attempt to convince the board to reverse its decision to dissolve the company. Not enough members of the board showed up to constitute a quorum, but those who did made it clear that they would not be reversing their decision.

Friends of Student Media separately contacted leaders in the journalism department to propose a 2-year restructuring plan, with FSM funding the student media company, and with the journalism department playing a key role through the support and mentorship of professors. The journalism leadership’s response amounted to a willingness to use our money for the formation of a new independent student media company (subject to the university legal department’s approval, of course), but an unwillingness to save SMC.

In short, neither the SMC board nor the journalism department will do anything to stop independent student media from dying, and both have rejected FSM’s offers to save the company.

The SMC’s bylaws require its board members to “demonstrate a commitment to freedom of the press and to the preservation and advancement of the independence and autonomy of the company and its media.” Instead, the few Board members who even show up for meetings are doing the opposite. They are refusing help from the alumni they failed to reach out to sooner--rejecting all efforts as too little, too late.

The journalism department, which should also back a student media company that is truly independent of the university, is also rejecting offers that would be in the best interest of journalism education. Instead of working with the alumni who cared deeply enough to put their money and time into a revitalization effort, the department would rather alienate them with its complicity in SMC’s failure. The student newspaper that once was an asset to the whole university will soon become a university-funded online vehicle for publishing journalism classwork. That is not what FSM rallied to support.

Thank you to all those who have donated money and spread the word of these efforts to save Student Media Co. SMU may be rejecting independence, but a nationwide effort to Save Student Newsrooms has just begun. With your continued support, we will keep collecting funds and working on plans to support independent college journalism.

https://www.dallasfoundation.org/donate.aspx?tp=1000&fn=friends%20of%20student%20media

https://savestudentnewsrooms.com/
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Earlier today, we met with Student Media Company board members to begin a formal conversation about what it will take to continue an independent student media at SMU.

The board seemed open to our efforts. In return, we now have full access to SMC financials so we can finalize a sustainable business plan. We are fully committed to making this happen.

We plan to meet with SMC board members early next week to continue the conversation.

Here’s the takeaway: The board seemed receptive to our ideas and impressed by the financial support and passion you all have given in a short time. We hope to have an even larger show of support by next week.

Here is how you can help: Please share this page and tell people about why it’s important to continue an independent student media at SMU.
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We are putting together a master list of all alums who stand behind this effort. Can you please add your name to this list? We will present it to the board today. Thank you!
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Tg8nmgi8hQ1bqm7TDXIGsoGyzNhkC2psGd9qEIppcsU/edit?usp=sharing
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Thank you to everyone who is supporting this cause! We are meeting tomorrow with the Student Media Company board and hope that will give us a clearer path forward. We will share more here after the meeting.
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$16,480 of $125,000 goal

Raised by 71 people in 3 months
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