North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily stands with the Battalion

The North Texas Daily stands with the Battalion

The North Texas Daily stands with the Battalion
February 17
12:34 2022

On Friday, Feb. 10, Texas A&M University President M. Katherine Banks informed the university’s student publication The Battalion that they were to cease printing weekly issues immediately. Banks has stated her intent to have the publication’s digital-only status is part of the university’s goal to revamp the college’s journalism department, effectively stifling the publication’s independence. Print journalism and student media are mightily important services to the community, and they can only remain as such if it remains independent from administration and faculty influence.

The Batt is entirely funded through advertisements, according to the publication. Not relying on their university to fund the newspaper and its staff is meant to ensure the paper’s independence. Knowing this, we can only deduce that A&M hopes to have editorial power and influence over what is published, severely undermining a key pillar of journalism.

It is this autonomy that enables student publications like ours to have students’ voices heard, especially when it holds those in power accountable. There are several news stories that simply would not have seen the light of day if we had to appease those in power. Last fall, the Daily reported allegations of homophobia and harassment against Carl Sheffield, director of the University of North Texas track and field program. It was a story that had to be told with voices that needed to be heard, even if it didn’t match up with some grand public relations image.

Bank’s order to stop printing came about by absolutely no communication with The Batt. She never reached out to the publication’s editor-in-chief members of the editorial board over a decision that was surely going to generate pushback. The lack of prior knowledge to the announcement could have distressing implications.

This independence ensures our readers are getting authentic and vital news — adding the university to the mix corrupts our watchdog role in society. Case in point: comparing the A&M’s press release regarding the move reads nothing more than a carefully worded announcement that desperately attempts to spin this on a positive note. It says nothing about what The Battalion‘s staff, let alone any student, have to say on the matter. This one release could be a sign of things to come for The Batt.

It is even more distressing to hear Banks openly admit she does not know the importance of print journalism, as if her lack of knowledge on the subject suggests print journalism is somehow an obscure relic. It is not. Some might hear about this issue and not see the importance of print, that the conflict revolves around an antiquated format that is losing its relevance in a digital world. Some may see print issues as nothing more than a novelty. However, it remains a vital and essential format that fulfills the role of journalists: to inform and do so independently.

Though the Daily, as well as The Batt, enjoy a large readership with our online content, print issues are a service to those without the means to access our digital resources. Our print issues can be found in just about all parts of the university campus. Every print issue is a curated, thought-out assortment of stories we feel needs to be read and heard. It allows students and the Denton community to be in the know about the life and times of the city.

Student media not only fulfills an obligation to the community, but gives students hands-on experience that can never be emulated in a classroom. Designing print pages, meeting tight deadlines and urgent decision-making are all essential skills in the job field. In an industry as competitive and far-reaching as journalism, working for an independent publication gives students valuable insight and the discipline to serve the public.

The Daily is funded through Student Service Fees, essentially meaning it is the students who are paying the bills. However, similar to The Batt, we were in danger of losing that independence.

In August 2018, the university wanted the Daily’s funding from Student Service Fees to cease and suggested we get our financials through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which would have made us an institutionally run publication with budget cuts. Page 8 of the Aug. 30, 2018 print issue showed the potential consequences of the desired move. Our funds luckily remained intact and we continue to enjoy our independence. We hope the same will be said for The Batt.

At the time of publication, President Banks announced a working group that could allow The Batt to continue print weekly publications. It is a step in the right direction and we hope this will lead to The Batt in maintaining its journalistic independence. It doesn’t take a journalism degree to know it’s the right thing to do.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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