EDITORIAL: Student media celebrating Western Weekend together

Student media supporting each other makes sense - even for 'rivals'



On the football field, for sure. 

Not in our newsrooms.

You may have been shocked to see another masthead on the front of Thursday's edition. This week, Central Michigan Life teamed up with Western Michigan University’s student newspaper, Western Herald, to create some unique content for our readers before the biggest football game of the season. 

In May, at the Michigan Press Association's annual convention, student journalists from around the state sat together and discussed what it is like covering our campuses. CM Life staffers answered questions about how we covered the March 2 campus shooting. We also talked about how our newsrooms run and about our shared experiences.  

As we bonded over journalism we found that we had a lot more in common than we expected with our "rival" school. We discussed working together for this edition. Western-Central Weekend is such a big tradition. It's the biggest weekend of the year and one we all look forward to. The editors began to brainstorm and correspond. In a short time we had planned our first-ever shared Central-Western Weekend edition. 

We understand that some students, and alumni, may be alarmed by us working together with "the enemy." While we might be rivals on the field, CM Life and the Western Herald support each other. Student journalists already have enough enemies. 

Student media is at risk at universities across the nation. From censorship of content to punitive funding cuts by administrators – some of those cuts made by student government associations – student media faces challenges that could take away the student voice from the people funding these institutions with their tuition dollars.

Here are just a few examples: 

• An official of the University of Southern California restricted a journalist from the Daily Trojan newspaper from taking notes and reporting on a public forum during its search for a new university president.  

• About 450 issues of The OU Daily were stolen Sept. 17 from locations across the University of Oklahoma Norman. The edition featured a front page article about sexual harassment allegations against a tenured drama professor who remains at the university but resigned as director of the School of Drama.

• Administrators at Lindenwood University near St. Louis killed the student magazine, The Legacy, to "focus on digital journalism" though its editors say it is retaliation for recent controversial articles.

Student media supporting other student media is important. Universities can never really be transparent with students and staff if they diminish the student body's right to free speech on campus. There is no one else who can truly hold a university president, administration and board of trustees accountable on a  campus besides student media. We are truly a resource for the entire community – a way to measure how the campus feels about important issues and a way for students to air their opinions about the issues that affect them.

Without strong student media, could you ever really say you know what is happening on campus?

Collaborating with another university – our arch rival – was a fun and exciting experience. We, as a staff, learned a lot about WMU, its history and how its student media operates. Thank you, Editor-In-Chief Mikhayla Dunaj and Herald staff, for taking the chance and collaborating with "the enemy." We hope you enjoyed working with us as much as we enjoyed working with you. 

Good luck. Except on Saturday. 

Fire up Chips!