With Provost Paul Sypherd's recommendation to cut the journalism department, the Arizona Daily Wildcat newsroom has received quite a few phone calls and letters asking how the cut could affect the Wildcat. Here's our official answer.
As much as we hate to admit this, the elimination of the department could cripple the Wildcat over the next three years. More than 50 percent of Wildcat employees are journalism majors including all of the news reporters and most of the sports reporters. The journalism department provides many of our reporters and editors with a basic understanding of the writing skills and ethics that are essential to even work at the Wildcat. Without the journalism department, the overall writing and editorial quality could be damaged.
The vast majority of this year's editors will be graduating in May which is typically the case. But unlike years past, some underclassman reporters, especially freshmen, are planning to transfer to ASU and other schools which offer journalism programs. Also since the department will not be allowed to admit any more incoming journalism freshmen, another reservior of reporters and future editors will be cut off.
The future of the Wildcat depends on finding students willing to dedicate the time and energy to continue a school newspaper. You don't have to be a journalism major to be an editor, but you need to be willing to devote the time and energy to producing a newspaper five days a week. Editors can work anywhere from five to 10 hours each weekday. You could make more money per hour working at McDonald's than if you were a section editor. People work at the Wildcat because it's good training for a career in journalism and occasionally they even have a good time. But if you are looking for fame, fortune or respect from UA administrators, the Wildcat is not the place for you.
There are a myraid of schools with school newspapers but no journalism departments. For example, UCLA does not have a journalism department, but the Daily Bruin is regarded as one of the top newspapers in the country. The sink-or-swim period for the Wildcat will be the next couple of years when students in non-journalism oriented majors will have to fill the vacuum left by the journalism majors. Hopefully, the newspaper will stabilize over the long run. The Wildcat has been around for 95 years, long before there was a journalism department. We sure as hell won't go down without a fight.
The Arizona Daily Wildcat is your newspaper. Its fate is in your hands. Like it or not, the Wildcat is the only school newspaper and the most comprehensive source of University of Arizona news. If you allow it to flounder and possibly die, prepare yourself for the consequences.
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