Best Newspaper (Private Colleges)
Best Newspaper (Private Colleges)
The privates are more up for grabs this
year, as several papers have made major improvements. But Florida Leaders
standout, for the second year in a row, remains Stetson Universitys The
Reporter. This weekly accomplishes more with its limited resources than any other
campus paper in Florida.
Editor Andy Dehnart and eight section editors manage a $45,000
annual budget, $25,000 of which comes from student-activity fees. Of the $20,000 the paper
generates in additional advertising revenue, about $10,000 must be paid back to the
university, Dehnart says. The paper is one of three collegiate broadsheetsthe others
being the University of Miamis Hurricane and The Avion of
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, both past "Best of Florida Schools"
Dehnarts team has taken The Reporter farther and
faster than any paper in recent memory. He attributes much of the papers progress to
both soliciting and listening to reader feedback. "Probably the best example of this
is the name change that our editorial section underwent this year," he says.
"Faculty and staff said there was confusion over what sort of content was in the
Forum section. They thought it wasnt obvious that Forum
indicated an arena for commentary. We promptly changed the name of the section to
Last summer, The Reporters web site, http://reporter.stetson.edu, was named the
number-one site nationally among non-daily campus papers in a Society for News Design
competition. And Dehnart says Stetsons paper continues to use its popular on-line
version to complement the print parent. "Over the past few months, weve
expanded the site to include content that we just cant fit in our print edition,
like award show nominees or references for stories, plus links to sports events," he
says. "Were experimenting with even more ways to interact with and provide for
Dehnart has revamped The Reporters front page,
featuring one major article with an accompanying photo, plus three other top stories that
"jump" inside the paper. "Last year, Shout was unquestionably
our most popular feature," Dehnart says. "This year, it probably gets equal
attention, although readers have told us a new featuremovie listings for area
theatersis also something they appreciate and look at every week.
"The article were most proud of is Doing
Diversity," he says. "In addition to bringing together all the initiatives
in one story and providing history, the report also contained frank remarks about our
campus climate that were part of a confidential, external climate review obtained by The
Dehnart admits that his staff cant accurately judge the
impact of their work, as he says, "Change happens slowly administratively and many
students are silent rather than vocal. However, articles we ran at the beginning of this
academic year detailing changes in a number of campus systemsincluding an analog to
digital phone changeover and malfunctioning air conditioning, probably had the most effect
because they informed students of exactly what was going on," he says. "Until
our report, many people were in the dark as to why the phones werent working and the
buildings were hot."
To maintain its current high level of professionalism, The
Reporters challenge this spring will be to recruit and train committed editors
and reporters who can step in when Dehnart and his team graduate-- no small task at a
school of Stetsons enrollment size (about 3,000 students).
At Lynn University in Boca Raton, The Pulse finally caught
Florida Leaders eye. Of all Florida campus papers, The Pulse has made
the most progress since last year. Under new advisor Alyce Culpepper, Lynns paper
has graduated from a poorly written, occasionally published tabloid replete with grammar
errors and typos to a colorful and cleanly designed publication that "looks like a
real paper," according to Natalie Smith, editor.
As Culpepper says, past papers were advised by part-timers, only
a few students wrote and edited, and just one issue was published during the fall 1997.
"Now we have 30 students involved," she says. "From my very first class,
these kids are learning how to write. Weve made writing a very critical
element." The proof: Culpepper points to a recent letter from Lynn President Donald
Ross, who wrote: "The new look of The Pulse is appealing and professional and
the articles are interesting and well-written."
The Pulses $4,000 annual budget is completely funded
by the schools administration. "But we have applied to be allowed to sell
advertising," Culpepper says. The Pulse distributes 1,500 copies monthly.
"People are grabbing for copies when it comes out," she says. "Thats
the most exciting time for the staff."
Papers at Florida Southern College, Jacksonville University,
and Barry University also are worthy of special mention. In Lakeland, The
Southern at Florida Southern sports an enhanced cover logo and full-color. Editor
Nadia Gergis says the weekly recently made a direct impact on a disabled students
life. "We ran a feature on how the financial aid cut the work-study of two students
whose job it was to assist a disabled student," she says. "The head of
psychological testing and disabled students is now personally paying for their
At JU, students probably dont even recognize The
Navigator, thanks to the weeklys improved design and strong focus on accuracy.
Managing Editor Susan Strange says section editors schedule regular meetings with faculty
members and administrators to facilitate open communication. "This has ensured the
validity of our facts," she says. "They have been cooperative with us since we
started this process. We are also trying to do regular profiles on faculty and
administrative members who have made a difference in some way in the JU community."
In Miami, Florida Leader cant remember The
Buccaneer ever looking betterand as a result of the papers design upgrade,
Barrys students are now on the lookout for each months edition. Editor in
Chief Diana Marrero says her staff also is visible on campus. "Every month, we set up
a table in Thompson Lobby, the highest traffic area in the school," she says.
"We hand out free pizza or other treats, so that more students will pick up the
paper. We also encourage them to speak to us about how were representing them."
Marrero points to a fall article on violent incidents at Barry
and other universities nationwide as The Bucs proudest moment. "It was
difficult to report, because it wasnt a very favorable article, and many people
wanted to keep quiet about it," she says. "It not only reported a recent
incident but had depth in explaining why this occurs. Also, we included a sidebar that
demonstrated how Barrys crime incidents are low in comparison to other
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