Editorial: #SaveStudentNewsrooms

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Imagine a United States that is completely controlled by a higher entity — that does not give the average citizen with something to say a space to say it. A United States that regulates thoughts, differing perspectives and information.

This nation is one without journalism and the media.

Journalism is essential to upholding the values of democracy and helping to keep the powerful in check.

Students who are writers and editors for The Brown and White work countless hours to bring issue coverage and varied perspectives to Lehigh’s community. Though we come from a range of academic backgrounds — from engineering to business to journalism itself — we are united by the mission of bringing our readers “all the Lehigh news first.”

The students who work on The Brown and White are assuming an important job — one that is undervalued around the nation.

Students who volunteer their time to The Brown and White spend more hours in the newsroom, conducting interviews and writing than they do in their individual classes — and contrary to what some believe, we do not get paid.

As a student-run newspaper, our content is not beholden to the wants of sponsors or advertisers. The chief stakeholders of The Brown and White are the members of our community.

We work hard out of the pure passion for reporting and journalism. Without The Brown and White, there would be a severe lack of information for and about the community, as well as a lack of accountability on campus.

We are a reliable publication that readers can use to seek out information about campus interests and historical university information.

We offer students a window to learn more about the local community — topics they might not otherwise have known.

We provide entrepreneurial and exceptional students with a platform to share their successes and triumphs. We are able to question administrators and push for campus-wide progress. We always ask questions and hold people accountable.

Like many student publications across the country, we play an important role in our campus community.

On April 25, students around the country will be “highlighting the need for student media and the importance of supporting it.” Students who run the University of Florida’s independent paper, The Alligator, created a social media campaign to #SaveStudentNewsrooms in support of journalism.

We stand in solidarity with our fellow student journalists.

Student newspapers are a microcosm of what is going on in the wider media sphere.

With political leaders creating catchy slogans like “fake news” and belittling media professionals, up-and-coming and seasoned journalists are experiencing added pressure to be responsible in the real world. This increasing national and international skepticism of news media and its validity only makes the work of journalists that much more important. Journalists must work harder to report without bias and to accurately represent the views and actions critical to their stories.

Students on The Brown and White, regardless of their majors, learn about media literacy and ethics as part of their core values and are therefore able to confront difficult topics head-on.

The ability to freely report information is crucial to our democracy. We need to encourage young adults to pursue investigation and reporting.

Our work can be the catalyst for social change. For example, this year’s Pulitzer Prizes recognized the importance of media publications as platforms for citizens to challenge the social norm with the #MeToo movement.

College papers have also picked up the slack and have competitively reported alongside professional publications.

Lehigh student journalists were the first to report on a fatal bus crash on U.S. Route 22 involving Lehigh’s crew team in October 2015. Student reporters in Kansas have even used their journalistic power to expose the false credentials of their incoming high-school principal, which subsequently resulted in her resignation.

We need student reporters and newspapers so we can train ambitious young people to serve this watchdog role in our country.

The press is integral to our society. Student journalists must not, cannot and will not be silenced.

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