Here we are in week three, the week when the fate of the New University’s 45 year history may come to a close within the next year. Where those blue bins you pick up a copy of the paper each week from will just go into storage or straight into the dumpster, only to become rusty remnants of what they once were. With a lack of a published paper, helping spread the death of print journalism all the way to our college campus, it would make us the only UC school without a paper and would take away our voices — as students, as writers, as curious minds, as engaged members on campus, the list could go on.
Nearly a month ago, the fate of the way news disseminates from our campus to readers took a surprising and unbeknownst twist for the editorial staff here at the New University. Not only did our paper risk going out of print within a year as we began to prep for the passage of Measure U, but the OC Register announced that they would begin to cover UC Irvine with a special weekly section in their newspaper.
Some members of the New University editorial board were excited at this prospect. We could get our name out to the community! Our under-recognized athletic teams would have the chance to be noticed! Student journalists would get more published articles!
Meanwhile, other members of the editorial staff remained hesitant about this news. What was the OC Register thinking by publishing a weekly; that’s our job! Who would be writing the stories they published and would they truly have a feel for what was going on at UC Irvine? Would the university be feeding the Register the news that they wanted to see published? Were students actually going to be able to write for this new section?
In a post to the “Inside the OC Register” subsection of the Register’s website, Aaron Kushner, the Register’s newly minted owner and publisher stated, “The university sections are exciting extensions of our plans to invest in Orange County, and provide more depth around core content areas that the community is most passionate about.”
However, the post continued on to explain that, “While the universities are the section’s primary advertising sponsors, all editorial decisions are independent of the university’s control.”
In a deal between the OC Register and the university, UC Irvine was promised a half-page ad in each section for 45 issues that would be produced over the course of the remaining year. How much did this cost the university? Advertising in the Register inked up to be $275,000 while PR representatives would work with the OC Register to advise them in their production of content and help them generate ideas.
So how can the OC Register report objective and fair news when they have PR representatives feeding them content all while the university pays them for ad space? Not only were these questions raised by us, but also by the LA Times who reported that unnamed staffers at the Register were also hesitant about the new deal.
Journalism ethics call for publications to receive no funding or pay from the people, companies and subjects they write about. As the media, we are expected to remain unbiased and impartial to the content we write. But to clarify, it doesn’t mean that we don’t care or have no empathetic bone in our being.
At the New University, who has no deal inked with the University other than the space we occupy on the third floor of Gateway and the recently halved pay that we receive, we are able to be fully objective and independent from the University. We receive no funding from ASUCI. We receive no funding from administration. And for now, we receive no funding from you, our readers. We don’t ask for money every Tuesday at our dispensaries, we just ask that you pick up a copy by opening up one of those blue bins.
As the editors, writers and photographers of your campus newspaper, we care how you readers get your campus news. We don’t want you to be left with a newsletter that comes out every Monday in a paper that you’ll have to pay for. Support the New University. Write for the New University. Read the New University. Vote for the New University.