A Brief History of an Old Paper: The Status of The Siskiyou
Eli Stillman, Editor in Chief
Daylight saving is usually not a welcomed holiday on college students’ calendars. Though we are embracing warmer weather and longer afternoons, the hour of sleep we all lose is the painful departure of a friend we won’t see again until November. But while considering this “loss of time” I began to ponder how often I waste an hour here and there on a daily basis.
At The Siskiyou, we are looking at how we have managed our time and efforts. Through both terms I have been on staff, we have been able to publish brilliant stories and help young writers develop. Unfortunately, our efforts have not been successful enough. Next fall, The Siskiyou might no longer be offered as a class. If this happens, our paper will go back to its original form of a club activity.
Once upon a time, I’m told, The Siskiyou was a fully funded club with healthy participation and leadership. Papers were printed weekly and students were able to graduate with experience that guided them to successful jobs. But the glory days soon fell dark as journalism classes began to be weaned off the schedule and the major soon was cut entirely. As the number of journalists on campus dropped, so did the momentum of the paper, and its funding was cut entirely. Articles still trickled in, but the loss of money constricted The Siskiyou solely to an E-print publication. Due to the lack of notoriety and marketing, the club was not producing healthy numbers of website views. At this point administrators pushed for the paper to become a class, in hopes that working for credit and a grade would motivate students to contribute more. It’s been one year now that The Siskiyou has been an enrollment class and we still receive no funding and aren’t producing strong numbers on our social media sites.
What makes this debacle more difficult, in the eyes of a fiery twenty-one-year-old like myself, is the lack of a physical enemy to target. There isn’t a dictator suppressing freedom of speech, and it’s not about investment backers pulling out their financial support. Our biggest downfall has been our lack of communication with the students of Southern Oregon University, a necessary bond for a public news source to survive.
While many of the professors in the communication department have a background in journalism and support the paper, they are feeling a pinch from upper administration to offer classes that will be filled.
In a perfect world we would be back to printing papers tomorrow but our non-existing budget does not support that movement just yet. Plans for funding are being projected and weighed for hopeful near future implementation. Right now, however, our efforts in social media are on overhaul, as we’d like to see a boost in cyber numbers, which would mean more readership.
Our struggle is all too common right now, as newspapers across the country are having trouble staying afloat, but it is my belief that SOU still cares about the information we present and that journalism is the only way to sustain governance.
I have a few committed writers returning on staff but we definitely will need more to produce quality content as well as meet the administration’s expectations of enrollment. If you care about your school’s freedom of speech, read the articles that your peers are publishing. Access to freshly published articles is easily obtained by simply liking our Facebook page and following us on Twitter. If free speech and representation really do matter to you or you’ve been curious about writing, please sign up for this class. You may just find reporting to be as addicting and beneficial as I have.
The instruction that I’ve received from many of these professors in the last few months has been some of the most enjoyable and useful in my academic career, and I refuse to allow the paper to go back to a wimpy communal club while I’m at the wheel.
“The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” -Thomas Jefferson