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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Opinion: Help us shape the future of journalism

Opinion%3A+Help+us+shape+the+future+of+journalism

As managing editor, I am acutely aware of every penny we bring in and that which we send out; as faculty advisor and professor, I want nothing more than to provide our amazing students with even more opportunities to grow the formidable skill sets they will need to be the next generation of great newsroom leaders.

By Regan Foster
Faculty advisor

I’ve never been particularly good at asking for help.

Let me rephrase that: I’ve never been particularly good at asking for financial help. I spent 18 years in newsrooms across the country; I can pester a source for information until I’m blue in the face.

But asking someone to pony up their hard-earned cash is anathema to me. Nonetheless, that’s what I’m doing today.

HOW TO HELP:
To learn more about the Colorado Media Project’s #newsCOneeds matching grant opportunity, or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.thisisnewsconeeds.com.

First, a little context: Four months ago, I met for the first time with a small-but-scrappy team of six student journalists and four senior staff members to talk about resurrecting and operating a print edition of Colorado State University Pueblo’s 50-year-old student newspaper. Like so many other things, The Today had been a victim of the pandemic and economic downturn and, through no fault of the paper or its prior staff, turned to a digital-only product to stay alive and cut costs.

Now there I was, a first-time faculty advisor in my first year as a full-time professor, facing the uphill battle of not only generating noteworthy content but completely redesigning and relaunching a print publication that would interest both the campus community and the larger Pueblo audience.

I told the students we must deliver a product worthy of the printing bill. They not only heeded the call, they exceeded even my standards.

In their first edition, the Today team produced a multi-piece retrospective on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 and America’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. In their final editions, they delivered a gut-wrenching one-two punch, looking first at the history of food insecurity in the Steel City and then offering a very personal tale of one student-athlete’s journey after a career-ending injury.

In between, they:

  • Tackled the hardest of hard news;
  • Took a team-building trip to one of Southern Colorado’s most iconic destinations;
  • Got fully credentialed to attend and report on one of the nation’s largest comic and pop culture conventions;
  • Donned their media passes to interview stars at PackFest and to be on the ThunderBowl sidelines for Pack football; and
  • Took thousands of award-worthy pictures.

They delivered real-time election-night coverage, in print and online, that rivaled any in the region. They interviewed candidates, attended watch parties and asked some really tough questions to our community’s top elected official.

These students stepped up, stepped out of their comfort zones and, frankly, kicked butt. Our band grew, with volunteer writers wanting to know how they could contribute and a world-class illustrator joining the team. Each edition got better, and I got prouder. I can’t wait to see what the new semester, under the leadership of yet another fearless and gifted editor-in-chief, will bring.

But here’s the rub: Each edition of our information-filled student newspaper comes with a price tag. The Today’s senior staff members are paid a stipend for their work (we’ll be growing by at least one paid position this spring); and as much as we appreciate the incredible support and mentorship of our friends at the local press, they didn’t run 4,200 copies of the paper for free.

Everything from our reporters’ notebooks, pens and AP Stylebooks to new digital equipment has to be budgeted, and we have line items for things like our newly re-established membership with the Colorado Press Association.

As managing editor, I am acutely aware of every penny we bring in and that which we send out; as faculty advisor and professor, I want nothing more than to provide our amazing students with even more opportunities to grow the formidable skill sets they will need to be the next generation of great newsroom leaders.

We can do it — and I assure you we will — but we need your help.

In September, The Today was welcomed into the prestigious Colorado Media Project (CMP), a collaborative of newsrooms from across the state geared at creating and sharing content of critical importance to Coloradans’ health and wellbeing. We are the only college newsroom to be credentialed as a fully fledged news outlet, and with that we are positioned to work alongside the likes of the Colorado Sun, NewsLine and our friends and distinguished alumni at The Pueblo Chieftain.

That in and of itself is huge, but we were also accepted into the the #NewsCONeeds class of 2021. We were one of 26 newsrooms from across the state selected to participate in this matching-grant challenge that aims to raise more than a quarter-million dollars in tax-deductible donations for local journalism.

For our part, we are shooting for $5,000 in donations of $999 or less by the end of December. If we can hit that mark, we will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, by CMP’s underwriters, including the venerable Rose Community Foundation.

That $10,000 total would be an absolute game changer for The Today, as it would pay the entirety of our salary and printing costs for the duration of the calendar year. That means all additional grant, underwriting and other revenues would go straight back to student enrichment, such as:

  • Sending our team to Colorado Press Association or Society of Professional Journalists conventions;
  • Investing in new equipment and training, like podcast-worthy mobile recorders or user-friendly video cameras;
  • Developing a guest-speaker series wherein students could hear from industry experts who aren’t their (boring) professor;
  • Growing our product, both in terms of size and in terms of frequency of distribution

If 200 boosters were to pledge one week’s worth of 16-ounce lattes (roughly $25 at your local drive-through caffeine hut), we would be at our goal and our students would benefit greatly!

Now, I know $5,000 seems daunting, but here’s another way to look at it: In lattes. (I’m a journalist, I think of everything in terms of the opportunity costs of caffeine.)

If 200 boosters were to pledge one week’s worth of 16-ounce lattes (roughly $25 at your local drive-through caffeine hut), we would be at our goal and our students would benefit greatly! Sure, you may be a bit more sleepy in the afternoon than you otherwise would, but it’s a small price to pay. And let’s be honest, there’s still that boring old drip-brew coffee maker in the corner.

Plus, all donations are tax-deductible, so if you’re still looking for a place for those end-of-year charitable donations, here’s your chance. To learn more, or to make a donation, visit www.thisisnewsconeeds.com/.

Please be sure to mention the CSU Pueblo Today in the comment section, and thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your generosity will enhance our students’ education and, in turn, rewrite the future of journalism.

Regan Foster is the CSU Pueblo Today faculty advisor and a lecturer of journalism in the Media Communication Department. 

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