“STOP PRESS.” On March, 26, 2016, The Independent, a British daily newspaper press finally bid farewell to its readers in the final edition. From now on, Independent said that the company would only publish articles online, as many newspapers had already turned digital. The notice from the first-class daily newspaper company shocked several readers. The issue exhibited the decreasing impact of print media on people.
College press in crisis
The college press is in crisis too. The three college presses in Ajou University, namely, Ajou Press, AEBS, and The Ajou Globe, are focused on delivering college news through various media outlets. Each institution/college in the newspaper has its own college-wide newspaper, broadcasting, and English magazines. Although college presses play vital roles in the broadcasting field, the three college presses are not popular among students. In other words, several students lack interest in presses. Unfortunately, students’ interest and participation are essential for activating the school press.
Among the crucial reasons for the college press crisis is students’ lack of interest. All the three presses mentioned above have difficulty managing owing to shortage of press members. They also have difficulty recruiting new members owing to the already apparent low participation.
For example, AEBS requires a sufficient amount of time to broadcast as newcomers have to learn from seniors how to deal with broadcasting machines and editing technical programs. Few members in AEBS at times find it difficult to produce excellent broadcasting programs as few of the new members are educated professionally. In fact, only one or two members do all the technical work.
The Ajou Globe has also experienced having few reporters to write articles for its magazine; two staff members even left during the winter in 2015 According to the ideal plan, reporters must have definite roles and knowledge according to their fixed press desks, such as culture, college, and international desks. Unfortunately, there were times when there are fewer reporters than the numbers of desks, and staff members have to do all the work completely. All the new recruited members of Ajou Press have also left due to conflict in personal schedules during the summer.
Low participation causes drawbacks. One is the possible lack of diverse contents as it is difficult to contain various opinions and topics in articles and broadcastings with few reporters. The lack of diversity may lead to boring content. Moreover, staff members become sensitive to each other rather than they focus on work. Due to the decreasing number of members, more pressure and burden are placed on the existing members of the press. This has resulted in disorganized articles and low-quality broadcast productions.
Reasons for a declining press
There are several reasons for the students’ lack of participation in a college press. Society and the students’ interests have changed. In the 1980s, many students have been interested in social movements and political issues; therefore, college presses played a major role to represent the students’ opinions and make them participate in social issues. In recent times, however, students have become more interested in personal activities than public issues. Unemployment crisis has been more intense recently, as indicated by the statistics of the National Statistical Office. As such, popular activities among university students are mainly focused on finding a job. Either students’ work in college presses are often related to their future jobs or they demand a specific job description. However, press activities are usually busy and strenuous as new recruit members leave early. Moreover, several clubs other than the college press are directly related to finding an employment, including English studying groups. In this way, students use their time efficiently instead of putting much effort on working in college presses. In fact, few students majoring in social sciences and humanities work in college presses. In Ajou University, the situation is worse as no journalism student is a member.
The problem is not limited to students’ participation. The main role of the press is to inform and broadcast. As online media flourishes, students are becoming less dependent on print media. School information are conveyed sufficiently through the Ajou University website, Facebook, and mobile notice board. In Ajou Press, it normally takes two weeks to produce a newspaper, but it only takes a few days to update a newspaper online. As The Ajou Globe publishes two magazines each semester, its role seems far from conveying the news. AEBS broadcasts college news through online media, radio, and video. In the Ajou University spring festival in May 2016, AEBS made a live broadcast through the AEBS Facebook broadcasting for students who could not participate in the festival. Although it can use online media, limitation exists. The audio broadcast usually starts at 8:20 am and 5:50 am, for about thirty minutes. However, many students do not know when the audio news starts and where to listen. Nowadays, students want to obtain speedy information through the internet whenever they want. The college press’s role to convey news has become less important, thereby the activities in presses have decreased.
Many other college presses in other universities experience the same crisis. In Kyonggi University, the press situation is worse. According to Chae-won Ahn, editor-in-chief in The Kyonggi PHAROS, the supporting aid for college press has been decreased. Press assistants who support and help in overall press activities have also been dismissed for financial reasons. The reduction of the college budget for press is controversial in many other universities including the Ajou University. Since 2016, the Ajou University decided not to offer allowances to press reporters. The college press in Yonsei University, “Yonsei Chunchu,” once published a blank page on the first page of its newspaper in a attempt to resist Yonsei University’s unilateral decision to decrease the press budget.
Print media is undoubtedly declining. Both the press and the university must try to revive the press. Otherwise, the press’s role to criticize and inspect the university correctly diminishes.
New action is needed for the press
Each press was established to deliver news in a distinctive way. As several media entities deliver news, each entity must clarify its meanings and reason for existence. For example, The Ajou Globe has constantly considered its roles. The magazine published by The Ajou Globe is written in English and produced only twice per semester. Almost all the articles published are long and have diverse topics. Korean students read less magazines as the articles are in English and not timely. In fact, only the section “On Campus” contains university news in one page.
The Ajou Globe’s magazine must also focus on international students. However, the contents are at times not useful and uninteresting to international students; certain articles seemed to be English versions only of Korean articles. The magazine must clarify its target audience and the topics must focus on international events in the university. Meanwhile, the AEBS is currently trying to broadcast their audio and visual news using Facebook and private internet broadcasting sites such as “AfricaTV.” It also constantly tries to rearrange the electric wire to broaden its broadcast reach.
Although the three presses almost work independently, they need to cooperate and conduct collaborative meetings more, especially during a period of crisis. The Ajou University must give more attention and interest to the press. Their interest does not necessarily violates editorial rights. The financial and advertisement support must be provided as only few members of the press are busy working. If the university put much interest and support, several students will give attention to the press. The communication between the press and the university has to be continuous.
Several presses are dying. In some universities, they have already vanished. The press is a vital institution in a democratic society, as students express their opinions through the press. The press also monitors any corruptions and controversial events such as public hearing for a student council election. An active press reflects an active student body. The press must consider how to be friendly to students, and the university must support actively the revival of the press.
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