The Daily Evergreen

Behind the Press: With the Evergreen facing print cuts, alumni weigh in

When the prospect of print cuts first arose in Fall 2017, The Daily Evergreen solicited testimonials from former Evergreeners

Then+Assistant+Sports+Editor+Dylan+Greene+works+on+his+page+layout+during+the+last+night+of+production+for+the+fall+2017+semester.
Then Assistant Sports Editor Dylan Greene works on his page layout during the last night of production for the fall 2017 semester.

Then Assistant Sports Editor Dylan Greene works on his page layout during the last night of production for the fall 2017 semester.

COURTESY OF RACHEL SUN

COURTESY OF RACHEL SUN

Then Assistant Sports Editor Dylan Greene works on his page layout during the last night of production for the fall 2017 semester.

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More information about potential print cuts can be found here.

 

It’s come to my attention that the Office of Student Media is considering slashing the “Daily” from The Daily Evergreen, dropping down to three or even two days a week as a cost-cutting measure. As an Evergreen alumna and professional journalist, I implore you to look to other options.

The personal bonds I built with my colleagues at the Evergreen were some of the strongest of my college experience. Those connections persist today as we cheer each other on in our post-grad careers, helping each other navigate one of the most competitive and rewarding industries on the planet.

It might seem like reducing the number of issues won’t have a huge impact [on] that environment. It will. The staff of a daily paper is in the trenches together, come midterms or hell or high water, night after night. They become better journalists because of it. As undergraduates, many of them aren’t sure yet if they want to pursue careers in the news industry — cutting back their hours will take a team of potential Edward R. Murrows or Kathi Goertzens and turn them into hobbyists.

I know money is tight for Student Media. It has been before, and I’m sure it will be again, and I trust you to make the choice that’s best for your department. But The Daily Evergreen’s 122-year legacy is nothing to brush aside, and I hope that legacy weighs heavily in your decision.

Calley Hair, class of 2015

 

 

My name is Hannah Street, and I am a former editor-in-chief of The Daily Evergreen. I worked in the Office of Student media from January 2015 to June 2016. I was a writer, a copy editor, and a managing editor before running the paper. During my time with the Office of Student Media, I spoke at a national journalism conference about my social media coverage of a Supreme Court decision, worked with Student Media leaders on a permanent funding campaign, and interviewed Kirk and Noel Schulz during one of their first visits to campus.

I am writing to attest to the value of the paper as a daily presence on campus and in the community from the perspective of a former Student Media leader and current alumna with a vested interest in the prestige of my alma mater.

Personally, I consider my time in the newsroom the most rewarding, the most challenging, and the most educational of my life. Lasting friendships and meaningful relationships with peers, teachers, and advisers came from my experiences as a writer, editor, and student leader. I do not exaggerate when I say I miss The Daily Evergreen every day.

Professionally, I am years ahead of where I should be in my career, and do not think I would be where I am today were it not for the leadership and writing skills I developed in the newsroom, fostered by the attention, advice, and support from important Student Media “grown-ups” (as we reverently referred to them) like Brian Shuffield and Jacob Jones. Though currently I do not work in journalism, every challenge I’ve encountered as a young policy professional has its equal parable from my time at the Evergreen.

It is significant that the paper was daily during my tenure. Daily publications are more rigorous and professional than other, less frequent variations. The daily presence of the Evergreen is irreplaceable. No other publication on campus serves the same demographic, is as prestigious, is held to as high editorial standards, or is as respected by national student media associations.

Non-daily papers are less prestigious and are harder for students and administrators to manage. Staff can’t be paid as well, so the talent pool is smaller. Staff diversity – in race, gender, orientation, socioeconomic status – is limited when students are not paid competitively.

Awards, which attract journalism students and accolades for the University, will be less frequent as the result from less support and less time in the newsroom and in the field.

Other Student Media departments, like the Yearbook, Web & Media, etc., would be similarly impacted. Financial departments would struggle more, and if the ads department is struggling to fund the paper now, no problems within that department will be solved with less work to do. The ads department fostered a counterproductive work culture during my time, which was documented. The makeup of this department, the primary financial propeller of The Daily Evergreen, may need to be scrutinized. It would be disappointing to see the editorial staff, which technically has (and should not have) any direct financial responsibilities punished for potential shortcomings of the main funding department.

Not all former WSU students have the insider knowledge of Student Media’s operations that compel me to write about its value. However, as an alumna I can speak to the value of my alma mater preserving its independent student voice.

A stakeholder in WSU’s reputation and success, I keep up with campus news. I am horrified by the white supremacist views of a group of students at WSU gaining volume and national media attention. Most of my information about this extremism on campus comes from The Daily Evergreen. For example, I read a story about a student leaving WSU to attend Seattle University as a direct result of extremist pro-white culture on campus that made her feel unwelcome and unsafe. That kind of report was not available anywhere else, and I greatly appreciated the excellent writing and the unique perspective from that piece. Additionally, I do not see any other University media outlets recording pro-white nationalism vandalism or updating the public on the attempted re-election of a Nazi-affiliated student to a University-sanctioned student group with as much dedication and commitment as The Daily Evergreen.

The saving grace in this situation, and others – university budget issues, campus crime, administrative issues, and athletic funding – is the independent student press that reports news and events on campus as they happen. I hope the University sees the value of The Daily Evergreen reporting the daily work its administrators, staff and faculty are doing to fund operations and academics and create a welcoming environment for all students.

Aside from my testimony, there are many possibilities and considerations to entertain before hastily condemning the paper to a less-than-weekly fate. I hope administrators are allowing Student Media student staff be a significant part of these discussions. As a general rule, Student Media staffers are bright, resourceful, innovative students, and are open to new ideas and possibilities.

I urge the University and Daily Evergreen administrators to do everything in their power to keep the paper a daily presence. The repercussions of cutting the paper are irreversible and detrimental to WSU’s standing as a top journalism school.

Please consider every possibility – and every consequence – before shuttering the daily presence of The Daily Evergreen. I strongly caution any rash decisions on this matter, and again encourage allowing Student Media staff participation and input on the future of their award-winning publications.

Sincerely,

Hannah Street, class of 2016

 

I’m in my 37th year of newspapering and without The Daily Evergreen I don’t think I would have secured my first job. I didn’t start in journalism until my senior year, enough time to cram in three journalism courses and a full year on the Evergreen.

Those three classes were great, but I wouldn’t have been able to parlay them into a job. The work samples I came away with from covering the City of Pullman and Whitman County government were enough to get a foot in the door at a small daily paper, and the experience of working in the rhythm of a daily print deadline was the reason I didn’t sink to the bottom of the deep end. I knew what it was like to turn around a news story on deadline because I’d done it.

I’m mostly glad there is a 24-hour news cycle these days, but I can tell you that in every print newsroom, there is still a special, adrenalin-inducing experience when a team of people, working independently and together, performing  disparate tasks, pulls in the same direction to meet a print deadline.

That deadline still sets the pace most of the time. It’s great that news no longer has to wait for a press to roll, but the prospect that it is going to roll at a certain time every day is a tremendous motivator.

Maybe even more important than the practical experience I got at the Evergreen was the psychic value of working at a daily paper. The small stipend made me feel like a pro. And the daily presence of the Evergreen in racks on campus and downtown gave the paper credibility and gravitas that translated into confidence that I really could do this professionally.

The Evergreen is a critically important institution to the entire campus community. It is a stabilizing factor and reducing it’s presence will erode that.

Doug Barker, class of 1980

 

At my first staff meeting, I was a 19-year-old, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman who really didn’t know a lot apart from the fact that she liked sports and writing. The big conference room was packed full of people who I didn’t know, listening to Editor-in-Chief Nathan Howard talk about his plans for us that semester. Our beloved director, Candace Baltz, was proudly taking pictures of us.

I remember that first staff meeting with as much clarity as I recall the nights I spent after I was promoted to editor, hunched over a computer at 1:30 a.m. prepping pages to send, or the hours I spent in meetings with my sports staff. That newsroom, and the semester I spent there as a reporter and the 1.5 years I spent there as an editor, meant more to me than nearly every other experience I had in college.

It was pivotal to the development of my leadership skills. When I was still a freshman, I had the opportunity to lead a staff of 10 writers (most of whom were older than me) and that shaped my ability to figure out the best tactics to help individuals grow, accomplishing their own goals and furthering the collective group. It taught me practical skills like AP style, InDesign and copy editing, but more importantly, it pushed me to constantly be better, be a better leader, be better at deadlines, be a better writer, be a better designer. Because of my work at the Evergreen, I was able to freelance for The Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and The Inlander, among other publications. There is no place else on campus where you can gain that kind of experience.

The Daily Evergreen will be 122 years old in March, and for the first time in a very long time, it is in jeopardy of being cut from five days per week in print to two or three days per week. That would be absolutely catastrophic to the atmosphere that I just described. The experience is working on deadline with your editor. The experience is toiling alongside your fellow editors late into the night, problem solving how to fit content within the layout or working with a reporter to get an on deadline story into the print paper. The experience is always having people in the newsroom, of being there for more than 40 hours per week as an editor. That comradery could never be matched by a two-day paper.

I understand that numbers are black and white. We either have the money or we don’t. But it would be a grave mistake to the vibrant and strong legacy of the Evergreen to cut print production without first exhausting all other options.

The leadership of the paper is as strong as ever. With former Evergreeners behind them, they will fight what is currently seen as an unfair use of the director’s power. Our director is supposed to fight for the paper and the people who make it happen, not impose new regulations that will severely hurt the newsroom without explaining how he came to that conclusion. We need to have an open dialogue with the director, because he is supposed to be our voice.

The efforts of Evergreeners are viewed as emotional and irrational by some, but those criticisms come from people who have never been in the newsroom before. We fight because we believe we have something that is worth fighting for, so that future Evergreeners can leave with the same transformative experiences that we were afforded. The Daily Evergreen truly was a special place for us. It taught us more than school could. It gave us a sense of belonging and pushed us to constantly improve ourselves and others. It was a home.

I graduated in Fall 2017, and it hurt my heart to know that the paper that formed the person I am today is in trouble. But I have great faith in the power of the legacy and tradition, as well as the current Evergreen editors. This paper is so much more than that to us, and you will see that in every person that fights this.

Kelsey Jones, class of 2016

 

My name is Michelle Fredrickson, former editor-in-chief of The Daily Evergreen, former Web and Mobile manager, and former assistant editor of the Visitor’s Guide Magazine. I began working for the Office of Student Media my second day on campus, beginning as a news reporter for the Daily Evergreen, becoming news editor for a year and a half, then managing editor, editor-in-chief, and finally editor of the magazine and manager of the Web and Mobile department. I consider my work with the Office of Student Media to be the best thing I have done in my undergraduate career.

A huge part of the reason my life was so strongly impacted by the Daily Evergreen was the first part of our paper’s name – Daily. I learned a great deal about coverage, deadlines, working professionally with a printer, and covering things for print versus online. Print and online are very different mediums, and to suggest that the Daily Evergreen could be cut from a daily paper to a twice weekly paper is an insult to the students who work so hard to keep the paper at the highest quality.

For two and a half years I spent every 5 nights a week in the newsroom, working from 4 until deadline to push out the paper. I learned how to manage my time extremely well in order to stay on top of my classes as well. I learned how to budget content in every section for a daily paper. And I formed bonds with the other people in the newsroom that will last me a lifetime. I am now almost finished with my master’s degree, and my experience with the daily newspaper has positively impacted every job I’ve had, my ability to manage graduate school, and my life goals overall.

The newspaper is a source of pride for Washington State University, frequently bringing in regional and national awards. The awards we have won – Pacemakers, Society for Professional Journalists, CMBAM, AP, and more – are available to us because of our status as a daily paper. Our status in the national student journalism industry would be damaged hugely by a drop to a non-daily.

The newspaper has done outstanding work in the year since I’ve left it. I have been continuously impressed by the depth and rigor of the editorial approaches to various major issues. As a former editor-in-chief and a formed Web and Mobile manager, I can say with absolute certainty that major stories such as the CAHNRS investigation of the white nationalist coverage would not have the same impact online as they did on the front page of the newspaper.

Students need to be prepared in both print and online to be marketable talent in the ever-evolving field of journalism. Maybe someday it will make sense to go online entirely, but not today. Not now. Print is not dead yet, and WSU would be failing its journalism students and effectively giving up a place as a top journalism school if it cut the ‘daily’ from the Daily Evergreen.

Furthermore, it is not only unfair but absolutely heinous to cut the newspaper for the failings of the advertising department, as it is extremely important to keep editorial content free from the expectation of profitability. When I was at the paper, just a few years ago (2012-2016), I saw the potential in the advertising market. Our sex editions were consistently profitable with companies entering bidding wars to get the sponsorship, and our first Student Choice Awards edition – for which I oversaw production, planning, and sales – was a huge financial success, bringing in revenue in the weeks of the voting as businesses bought advertisements to promote voting for them.

I was asked, if not begged, to take over the advertising department in my final semester at WSU, because even then leadership in Student Media saw how badly it was failing. I declined because I had no experience in advertising and I was already leading two departments at that time – Web and Mobile and the magazine. I regret declining now, because I realize I could have led a more productive culture then and possibly averted the crisis now.

The point of this story is that the advertising department does have the potential to be successful. The current failings of the advertising department does not represent a failure overall of the market. It is absurd to take away a daily status from a paper, and to punish the people who put out that paper every single day, for the failings of another department.  And cutting the print side will not solve the cultural problems I saw in the advertising department. When I was editor for the paper, our website had many advertisements and exciting possibilities for online sponsorships. When I was Web and Mobile manager, I received precisely one online ad in 4 months. This changed in less than a year, at the same time the staff changed.

Even aside from the advertising department, there are other ways to finance the paper that absolutely must be explored before cutting the newspaper is even on the table. The magazine, for example, was in flux when I led it. The magazine project was adopted to be a source of income – a marketing product, it was designed in its essence to make selling into it easy and to be a source of revenue. The vision for the magazine has changed since then, but reverting back to the marketing nature could be a lucrative source of funding.

Hannah Street, who was editor-in-chief when I was Web and Mobile manager, spent many hours campaigning for a student fee to permanently fund Student Media. The vote failed, but our experience provided a great deal of insight into how we could get it through a second time.

Additionally, there is the option of appealing directly to the president. When I was editor-in-chief, we appealed directly to Elson S. Floyd for funding for the adviser positions, with great support and success. If Kirk Shultz cares as much for academics as he does for football, considering the million-dollar raise he has just given Mike Leach, he should act to protect the daily paper.

News is a changing field, and the people who are involved in the process are changing with it. We oppose change that is harmful and work with change that is beneficial. It should speak volumes that there has been so much opposition from the students involved in the newspaper now and from Daily Evergreen alumni to cutting back the print production of the paper.

As a concerned WSU alumna and a former Evergreener, I beg you not to do this. Consider every possible option before even putting this on the table. Preserve the integrity of Student Media, preserve WSU’s reputation as a top journalism school, and don’t take the ‘daily’ out of The Daily Evergreen.

Yours with sincerity,

Michelle Fredrickson, class of 2016

 

My time at The Daily Evergreen was essential to getting internships and building the clips that qualified me to work at a daily newspaper after graduation. I have been a working journalist for the past seven years now. The Evergreen’s publishing cycle was grueling, but it was important because it gave people a taste of what they were getting into. Time management is a struggle for many young reporters, and aspiring journalists who don’t experience a daily print deadline struggle to adapt to the realities of the media landscape. When we are hiring at my paper, I look at candidates’ college newspaper experience. Work at a daily is a huge bonus.

Secondly, the Evergreen’s role as a watchdog cannot be ignored. It is the paper’s job to ask uncomfortable questions and challenge the hypothesis, and administrators often look for ways to limit that scrutiny. I would read an attempt to limit publication days as a threat to accountability at a major public university. Print may not be the future forever, but today’s employers expect experience with a print product, and clips from a real newspaper matter more than some random blog. That applies to jouranlism jobs but also the public relations field. A frequent print deadline is the best training available for the 24-hour news cycle.

Rikki King, class of 2010

 

It’s heartbreaking to hear that current and future Cougs might not share in the joy and frustration of putting out a newspaper five nights a week. The Evergreen’s publication schedule prepared me for the rigors of working fresh out of college at some of the biggest papers in the country. Many papers have yet to cut print days, and I still believe young, experienced journalists can thrive in the industry.

My journalism career began at the Evergreen 16 years ago. In addition to building skills as reporters, editors and page designers, my co-workers and I learned about discipline and integrity. We dug deep and performed when our colleagues needed us to do our work. We had to build a thick skin when others questioned our decisions. We also realized how important it was to own up to and atone for our mistakes! On deadline, you’re bound to make a few. 

The Evergreen experience was the most valuable education I got at WSU. At the May 2005 commencement ceremony, graduates who held full-time jobs during college were asked to stand. I stood alongside several of my Evergreen co-workers, and we were damn proud of being Cougs and Evergreeners. 

After graduating from WSU in 2005, I was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund sports copy editing intern at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. I eventually worked as a sports journalist at three other daily newspapers — The Sacramento Bee, The (Tacoma) News Tribune and the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick — before becoming a science writer and content editor at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The Evergreen remains a career highlight.

Katie Dorsey, class of 2005

 

I worked at The Daily Evergreen throughout my undergraduate years at WSU, starting as a reporter and working my way up to Editor-in-Chief. I also served as Chief Copy Editor and Managing Editor, though News Editor was probably my favorite role.

As student journalists, we all believed in the importance of the media and its significant role in society. We were the watchdog of government, and in our case, the university. Working at the daily paper made that belief become a responsibility. Every weekday I watched my fellow students reading the paper, a paper I had spent hours the day prior making the best it could be, while still making deadline. I learned how to operate in stressful situations. I learned how to adapt when reporters didn’t get a story in on time. I learned how to quickly convey information to large audiences. I learned how to tell stories. And I learned how to negotiate with the printer for just a few more minutes to finish our layout.

I can’t think of a better way to be prepared for the “real-world” than working at a daily paper. Even though I never became a professional journalist, you’d be surprised how often my time as a student journalist comes up. I’m the go-to in my office for copy editing and quick turn-arounds on deadlines, but that’s only the beginning. Being part of a daily newspaper staff is still the best example of teamwork I’ve ever experienced. Our daily shared mission and duty bonded us together and made us a stronger student media. We tackled real issues, occasionally even breaking stories before the rest of the press. During my time as editor, we covered Provost Hoch’s abrupt departure and the Christopher Jack Reid trial. As a reporter, I remember running to cover an apartment fire and losing a shoe on B Street in my rush. You can’t replace or replicate that sense of urgency or the feeling of triumph in making deadline on breaking news. Election night coverage was always especially fun. And the skills and experience I built in those moments help me to this day. The media landscape is only becoming faster-paced. If we want to prepare the next generation of journalists, they should have the opportunity to experience news and report on news as it occurs. 

I loved my time serving on the staff of The Daily Evergreen. The stressful moments were outweighed ten-fold by the feeling that I was making a difference. We set high-standards for ourselves and worked every night to meet them. I hope today’s staff has the same opportunity to benefit from the experience as much as I did.

Christina Watts Curran, class of 2009

 

I am the managing editor of The Cordova Times weekly newspaper in Cordova, Alaska. Cordova is the home to 2,000 year round residents, with a seasonal population that more than doubles. It is the home to a robust commercial fishing community, a U.S. Coast Guard station and the home of a once-major mining port. Cordova is best know for its Copper River salmon, and is one of the nation’s largest salmon ports. It’s also know for its proximity to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. It’s the home to Alaska Native people and rich with culture and history.

Issues we cover that affect Cordovans often reflect issues that affect Alaskans statewide making it not only a local news source, but also an essential part of a critical network of rural Alaska media. There is important industry, science and culture in Cordova. There is no other competing media in Cordova, making it among many rural Alaskan communities that are underserved with news and information. There are important stories to be told in rural Alaska and in small communities across the United States. 

I would never have been able to help this small newspaper survive two sales in 5 years and multiple challenges in a rapidly evolving media industry without the lessons I learned at The Daily Evergreen. 

My work as a student editor of The Daily Evergreen while completing my journalism degree was crucial to my education. While books, classes and theoretical study of journalism is important, it is hands-on experience that is imperative to giving students ample opportunity to learn to handle the challenges of today’s journalism industry. 

My amazing, deadline-oriented, real-world experience at The Daily Evergreen is what made propelled my career to where it is today. It’s what made my resume stand out to mid-size Northwest newspapers for internships and jobs. The Daily Evergreen is part of the legacy of the Murrow College of Communication — a gold seal that has a reputation among the professional newspaper industry of producing smart, educated, qualified news people — ready to step into jobs with minimal training thanks for the quality of The Daily Evergreen. I cannot give high enough credit to the importance of this daily student newspaper to students, the community and future newspaper journalism everywhere that Evergreen alums leave their mark in the post-collegiate world. 

Annette Potter, class of 2007

 

I had just been thinking back to my experience as a full-time Daily Evergreen employee when I heard about the proposal to cut print production to two days. What a terrible idea. 

In fact, I think of my time there often. Even 10 years after graduation, I continually draw from my experiences there to help me navigate challenges at work. 

The Evergreen was a critical skill builder during my time at WSU. Working on deadline night after night allows you to hone critical thinking skills and become comfortable doing important work at a fast pace. More than any class, it provided the hands-on and fast-paced environment that helped me develop skills that I used to move from a night editor at a daily newspaper to editor of Montana Magazine. 

Now that I’ve transitioned into a marketing role, I continue draw on my time at the Evergreen because it truly did help me develop broad skills that help me thrive in a workplace. My co-workers know they can turn to me to get excellent work on whatever deadline they have. 

The Evergreen also helped pay my bills– with the bulk of each check going back to WSU. 

If WSU wants to continue to lead by example and give it’s journalism students the best possible opportunities to develop top-notch skills that’ll create value in whatever career they choose, the Evergreen should remain a five day print publication. 

Jenna Cederberg, Class of 2007

 

 

During my time at Washington State, my experience working on the Daily Evergreen was far and away the most important thing I did to help prepare for a career in journalism and I think the 5-day-a-week production was a big part of that. It helps students get a better understanding of how the job works in the real world, which is key both in readying them and helping them decide if it’s really something they want to do.

Kyle Bonagura, class of 2005

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