Texas A&M’s treatment of The Battalion indicative of Journalism’s downward spiral

The University forced The 129 year old student newspaper to become Online-Only without student input

Adeen Rao, Lead Editor

In a situation similar to the one at our own high school, Texas A&M’s president demanded that the University’s student newspaper The Battalion end it’s print edition, forcing the organization to go online-only starting in the spring semester. There was virtually no student-input in this decision, and it begs the question of whether the newspaper can maintain editorial independence in the future if the University is able to make decisions like this.

Starting last year, the Post ended print editions of its newspaper after nine years of printing due to a lack of staff and overall, a lack of participation in the journalism department. Texas A&M underwent a similar procedure as the school suspended its journalism department in 2003, but they continued allowing students to pursue journalism, just as a minor instead of a major.

Now to the naked eye one might wonder, what is wrong with this? Well firstly, student newspapers have always been independent of the University, to avoid biased and school surveyed coverage of news. So when the President of Texas A&M Kathy Banks demand the newspaper joins the University or it will be stripped of its resources with a day’s notice, it is a complete violation of that aspect that makes student newspapers so great.

Additionally, when it comes to printing newspapers the fact that it is a dying art breaks my heart. As a kid who has grown up his whole life wanting to be a journalist, my dream was to have people read my articles on the front page of a newspaper, and Texas A&M is stealing that joy from their student journalists. Furthermore, the printing of a newspaper and its display in public is what lets people know that the newspaper even exists, that’s how the newspaper is advertised. Not everyone has Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, everyone can walk through their school and see a printed edition of a newspaper and the headline. While a more digital-based platform for journalism is the future, completely eliminating the printed edition eliminates the coolest aspects of newspaper.

I can use The Post as an example, the stigma around our newspaper since I joined as a junior has been, “Wait we have a newspaper?” to which I always respond that it is online at tmhspost.com and usually said person will go “Aren’t newspapers printed?” Unfortunately in our situation, we just can’t print the newspaper with the lack of staff and resources. Now The Post is fading into oblivion, with virtually no one in the school from teachers to students knowing what it even is. The same lack of staff and resources isn’t a trait that Texas A&M possesses, their situation results from a tyrannical approach from the University and Banks in particular.

Our situation has lead to journalism dying at our school, with just one kid signed up for the journalism course next year. Even this year, our newspaper staff went from 15 people to two, which has lead to a significant decrease in journalistic output. I have a hard time believing that just one kid in this school with over 2,500 students wants to report news, but unfortunately with no print edition getting word out about the newspaper is virtually impossible.

If Texas A&M wants to contribute to the movement to kill journalism, then by all means they should continue their tyrannical approach and suspend The Battalion’s print edition. If they want to actually let their students have a say and listen to what they say and understand how important the independent aspect of a student newspaper is to its integrity, then they would find out that their approach is completely baseless and ridiculous.