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Editorial: #SavetheStudentNewsroom is more important than ever

Even with the closure of the University of Maine campus, the shift to online classes and the return of many students to their hometowns across the country, the Maine Campus has continued to publish our weekly newspaper for the UMaine community. Without access to our office, our team had to find a way to adapt. Closing our doors and halting publication was never an option. We are dedicated to our students, our community and our responsibilities as student journalists. As we administer our final publication for the 2019-20 school year, the Maine Campus editorial board wanted to urge our audience to continue to support not only our own newsroom but student newsrooms around the world.

Three years ago, students of the Florida Alligator, the student paper at the University of Florida, created a social media campaign to generate awareness and support for student newsrooms. The movement, which connects to its audience through #SavetheStudentNewsroom, seeks to garner support from community members and provide resources for other student newsrooms across the country. However, this year, the movement has turned its focus to relaying the importance of student newspapers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It’s no mystery that COVID-19 has brought unprecedented, uncertain and daunting circumstances to the forefront of America. With stay-at-home orders, self-isolation practices or mandated quarantines, newspapers are the lifeline of community communication, and this is no different for UMaine. 

Although our students no longer walk across campus to classes, gather in dining halls or chat with friends in the Memorial Union, we are still one community. The methods of communication have just become more difficult. This is why the Maine Campus has dedicated itself to seeking out and encouraging dialogue around COVID-19 to distribute to our audience. For example, the news section of the Maine Campus has prioritized human interest stories that shed light on impacts of the pandemic on a variety of UMaine subgroups, such as study-abroad students, students with disabilities, political organizations on campus and LGBTQ students. 

In times like these, it is crucial to spread awareness of how communities are coming together to support one another. Without these conversations, individuals may lack access to resources that have been put in place to support them during these challenging times. Newspapers are positioned to provide this information, and our student newspaper ensures that the community around UMaine does not go unnoticed. 

Not only does the Maine Campus provide crucial information for our community, but it also supports UMaine students financially. By staying open, the Maine Campus is able to keep over 30 students employed, which unfortunately was not the case for the employers of many student workers across campus after the closure of the UMaine campus. In doing so the Maine Campus was able to lift one stressor off the shoulders of our team.

Additionally, our newsroom provides personal and professional support. As student journalists, it is crucial to receive hands-on training and experience that we can apply in the workforce to ensure the quality and levels of professionalism in the newsrooms we work next. This quality comes from working with and receiving advice from other student journalists with different perspectives and experiences. Within our newsroom, we are able to offer a helping hand or challenge one another to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. 

Yet even if the Maine Campus was not able to provide these amazing experiences for those who work within our organization, our newsroom would still be a critical part of UMaine’s community and list of resources for students. The main priority for our, and all, student newsrooms is the students and community we serve. Keeping student newsrooms alive ensures that students are involved in community news and events, university administration is held accountable,  our community is able to stay connected in times of crisis and we are able to help every student that we can. 

Even though our main responsibility is publishing articles, our office is much more than that. This was perfectly exemplified when a concerned parent called our office earlier this school year asking for help in getting her daughter, a first-year student, involved with school activities and find a like-minded community. As students, we have a unique ability to connect with our school and the students at UMaine in this way. Our student newsroom will always be here to answer the phone and help our fellow students 

As long as the Maine Campus has the support of the community, we will be here to return the favor. You are our priority. The editorial board of the Maine Campus thanks you for all of your continued support. 


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