Student Newspapers Are in Trouble, Right?

College publications feel the tough times but aren't as bad off as their professional counterparts.

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The Chronicle of Higher Education says: "Student Newspapers Escape Most Financial Problems of Larger Dailies." But Inside Higher Ed says: "Print Journalism Squeeze Hits Campuses."

So, which one is true? Well, both.

As publications from UC-Berkeley, Syracuse, and now Missouri report pretty bad news, it seems that a large number of papers are doing "just fine."

Advertisers have been fleeing from professional publications for years, but many still recognize student newspapers have a niche audience. They paid $35 million in advertising last year, a 15-percent increase from 2006. The papers, which are often free, typically have steady circulation, and free/cheap labor (students who will slave away just for the journalistic thrill) keep costs down. A number of publications report relative stability and the papers from the University of North Carolina (Daily Tar Heel) and the University of Florida (Independent Florida Alligator) were both cited as doing pretty OK.

Still, although the outlook for student newspapers is far sunnier than that of the print journalism industry as a whole (which saw a 9 percent drop in print advertising revenue), the weakened economy has discouraged advertisers from ponying up cash as a whole. Both Georgia's Red and Black and UCLA's Daily Bruin are experiencing economy-related problems.