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Conservative nonprofit’s new program to grow, improve independent student newspapers nationwide

At New York University, a Jewish student was temporarily booted from the student government, but the mainstream campus student newspaper the Washington Square News didn’t cover it. Nor did it cover a slew of student deaths and how campus officials didn’t acknowledge the tragedies campuswide.

But one student publication did cover these two stories — the NYU Review.

Six months ago, the NYU Review didn’t exist, but thanks to a new program launched by The Fund for American Studies, the independent student publication got up and running over the fall semester and has since reported campus news ignored by the official student newspaper.

“We’re giving a platform to voices that would otherwise be censored,” said co-founder Kayla Hutt, a sophomore, in an interview with The College Fix. “We are allowing for many different perspectives to get out there on campus and we are really promoting public discourse, which we believe is an essential aspect of journalism.”

The fund, a conservative educational nonprofit, supports the NYU Review through its Student Journalism Association, launched last fall.

The association offers the Review and other right-leaning heterodox student campus publications financial grants, in-person trainings and journalism conferences to help independent news flourish and help young people develop their writing and reporting skills.

“They can earn up to $15,000 a year in grant funding, we do campus visits four times a year, we host trainings, and we have regional conferences,” said Ryan Wolfe, director of TFAS’ Center for Excellence in Journalism, in an interview with The College Fix.

“We want to get more students on these campuses writing and thinking about a career in the media, and the best way to get them engaged and involved is student newspapers,” Wolfe said.

The Student Journalism Association has launched two publications from scratch, the NYU Review as well as the Pennsylvania Post at the University of Pennsylvania, he said. Fifteen already established conservative student campus newspapers have also joined the TFAS network, which has provided funding and in-person training to help them improve, he said.

“We have some good data that the additional support has made a tangible impact,” Wolfe said.

The Student Journalism Association provides grants to its network publications based on metrics that include staff size, number of articles published, percentage of articles with original reporting, meeting frequency, and number of active freshman, and “they can earn up to $4,000 a quarter based on how they perform on these,” he said.

The incentives, or “measures for success,” have worked, Wolfe added, noting the student publications have shown exponential staff growth, including a “133 percent growth in active freshmen.”

Roger Ream, president of TFAS, argued supporting independent campus journalism is vital for a free and thriving democracy — and is why the Student Journalism Association was launched.

“The echo chambers of progressive ideology [within higher education … ] has left little room for students to practice independent reporting techniques, polish their writing abilities, and most important, develop critical-thinking skills,” he wrote in an Oct. 5 piece for National Review headlined “To Stop American Journalism’s Continued Decline, Start with College Campuses.”

“Instead of welcoming students of diverse political perspectives and viewpoints, colleges are effectively severing the pipeline between young writers who happen to be conservative and their future careers in journalism.”

Hutt, at the NYU Review, told The Fix the counterpart student newspaper, the mainstream Washington Square News, has avoided publishing pieces that could be perceived as being pro-Israel or supportive of conservatism.

We filled a gap,” she said, “and it’s a gap present on a lot of college campuses, unfortunately.”

MORE: Mandatory ASU course teaches journalism students that asking ‘Where are you from?’ is racist

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.