(I know adviser Doug Pils probably DIDN’T approach the situation this way, but I still like to imagine this is how he and his newsroom reacted when the administration dropped the bomb on them, declaring their print days to be over.)
Good news seems to be in short supply these days, so it’s nice to see a reminder that once in a while, the good folks win.
The Battalion at Texas A&M University celebrated the fact they are still printing one year after the university declared print on campus dead and demanded the paper stop putting out a dead-tree edition.
The editors wrote a fantastic piece on their opinion page recently to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the event by showcasing all the great stuff they had done since that point in time:
The Battalion has dominated the national awards stage, earning eight Pinnacle awards from the College Media Association, ranking first in Associated Collegiate Press’ Fall 2022 Clips and Click Contest and winning the first-ever Student Press Freedom Award from the Student Press Law Center — just to name a few.
Hard-hitting journalism such as “The Rudder Association” reached readers everywhere and even made The Texas Tribune’s “The 2022 stories Texas Tribune journalists wish we’d had” alongside work by The Houston Chronicle and The Marshall Project.
Our own coverage of the Memorial Student Center losing its status as an early-voting location last year informed the local community and directed eyes from all across the state to College Station and the importance of ballot access.
But The Battalion, and student journalism more broadly, is about so much more than the headlines that reach national proportions — it’s about telling the story of our community, Aggieland, authentically.
Being run by students, for students, allows us to pinpoint the stories that matter most to our audience, explore these issues with passion and sharing it to Aggies everywhere.
Last year around this time, the administration at Texas A&M was trying to kill the print edition of The Battalion, the student paper on campus. President M. Katherine Banks demanded the venerable publication cease printing immediately because… um… digital stuff…? When asked about her rationale for making the move, this classic quote emerged from her brain stem:
“I’m not a professor of journalism, I don’t understand exactly why [print media] is important to the field.”
Then-adviser Doug Pils worked with the students to keep the spotlight on the issue while working with administrators to try to figure a way out of the Land of Stupid Decisions. In an interview right after this move, he noted that student media operations were doing digital work, putting out multiple publications and turning a profit, to boot.
Pils said the continued support from a variety of sources has helped buoy the staff members’ spirits as they persist in their efforts to save the print edition. He also said he doesn’t know what it will take to get Banks to fully retract her order.
“Do I have honest hope for it? I don’t know I think we raised enough ruckus that we might have a chance, but not knowing this person at all, and only knowing a few people who do know her, I’m not certain… but I certainly do hope.”
After getting a brief reprieve to the end of the semester, the situation kind of just kept on keeping on. The editorial reflects that and it’s a great way to capture everything student press should entail:
While our staff is committed to embracing new mediums and ways to reach our audience, make no mistake; Print is not dead until we say it is.
The Battalion has been printing for 130 years, and today, we are committing to yet another. So here’s to another year of print journalism, of commemorating Aggieland and telling stories about students, by students, for students.
Here’s to another 130 years. Congratulations and thanks for the inspiration!