Campus Press Documents, Part 3: The Herdy Study

The April 10 Message column discusses three documents handed out to attendees of an April 2 faculty meeting held to consider the fate of the Campus Press, the student-operated online newspaper affiliated with the University of Colorado Boulder, in the wake of a divisive column by scribe Max Karson that revved up debate from coast to coast. Among them was a study of campus publications at just over half of the 110 accredited journalism schools in the United States as written by Amy Herdy, the Press’ adviser (pictured). Faculty members weren’t knocked out by the data, since at least a few of them expected a business plan for the Press, whose staffers argue for its independence, instead of facts and figures about far-flung college newspapers. Nevertheless, the information in the Herdy report provides as accurate a snapshot of how much freedom universities and other institutions of higher learning give to their student journalists as is currently available. -- Michael Roberts


Data Compiled by Tyera Eulberg Report Written by Amy Herdy

For the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Journalism and Mass Communications

April 2, 2008


The purpose of the study was to compare the method of operation of The Campus Press of the University of Colorado at Boulder to other publications at university campuses with accredited journalism/mass communication schools.

The data were collected from October 2007 to January 2008 using an online survey, conducted by, which emailed a questionnaire to each of the 110 accredited journalism schools within the United States.

That questionnaire was followed by phone calls made to many of the schools to prompt participation.

A total of 62 representatives of the journalism schools responded to the survey, although not all who responded completed every question.

Frequency*: How frequently do you publish? *A total of 58 responded to this question.


Number: -- Percentage:

Less than once a week: -- 1 -- 1.7 Once a week: -- 14 -- 24.1 Twice a week: -- 12 -- 20.7 Three times a week: -- 2 -- 3.4 Four times a week: -- 5 -- 8.6 Five times a week: -- 20 -- 34.5 Seven times a week: -- 4 -- 6.9 58 -- 100


Less than once a week: -- 1 1.7 Once a week: -- 11 19.0 Twice a week: -- 8 -- 13.8 Three times a week: -- 1 -- 1.7 Four times a week: -- 3 -- 5.2 Five times a week: -- 8 -- 13.8 Six times a week: -- 18 -- 31.0 Seven times a week: -- 2 -- 3.4 Constantly: -- 6 -- 10.3 58 -- 100

The Campus Press publishes online constantly.

Independence: n=59

An index was created of publications that are entirely independent of the journalism curriculum or journalism program. The fact that so few publications responded affirmatively to the measures of dependence on the journalism program is an indication that even more publications would qualify as independent than the index reflects.

The publication is entirely independent from the journalism curriculum or the journalism program in any formal or official capacity:

Yes -- 36 -- 61% No -- 23 -- 39%

59 -- 100%

Note: Three schools, otherwise noted as INDEPENDENT, responded in the “other” column provided. One provides a one-credit training program for the newspaper. A second offers an optional Mass Communications class for newspaper staff. The third said it has an “informal” relationship with journalism faculty.

The Campus Press is not independent from the journalism curriculum or the journalism program.

Oversight of Publication:

Which phrase best describes the student publication’s governing or oversight mechanism? n=59

A board consisting of administrators, faculty, and/or students that also includes visiting professionals.

23 -- 39.0%

A board consisting of campus administrators and faculty with no journalism program representation.

1 -- 1.7%

A board consisting of campus administrators and faculty, including journalism administrators and/or faculty.

8 -- 13.6%

A board entirely within the student government.

1 -- 1.7%

A campus-wide board consisting of administrators, faculty and students, but no one from the journalism program.

2 -- 3.4%

A campus-wide board consisting of administrators, faculty and students, including representatives from the journalism program.

13 -- 22.0%

No response.

2 -- 3.4%


3 -- 3.4%

Functions of the Publication’s Oversight Body: n=59

What does the oversight body do?

Select/hire the advisor and other professional staff:

Yes -- 10 -- 16.9% No -- 49 -- 83.1% 59 -- 100%

Select/hire the student editor or key student leadership each year/term:

Yes -- 45 -- 76.3% No -- 14 -- 23.7% 59 -- 100%

Meet regularly with the key staff to advise and consult:

Yes -- 10 -- 16.9% No -- 49 -- 83.1% 59 -- 100%

Approve the publication’s annual budget:

Yes -- 25 -- 42.4% No -- 34 -- 57.6% 59 -- 100%


Advise on budget, policies -- 1 Guiding mission, plan -- 1 Hear complaints against all student media -- 1 Long-term planning -- 1 Meet as needed to discuss issues -- 1 Meet mid-semester for an update on the publication -- 1 No oversight body -- 1 Oversee publisher -- 1 Select director of student media -- 1 What goes in the paper -- 1

Professional staff: n=57

Are there any non-faculty, professional staff at the publication?

Yes -- 35 -- 61.4% No -- 22 -- 38.6% 57 -- 100%

If so, how many?

Full-time -- Part-time On average: -- 4.6 -- 0.6 Lowest: -- 0.0 -- 0.0 Highest: -- 20.0 -- 4.0

Summary of professional staff roles: n=57

What jobs do professional staff perform?

None: These were all subjective answers that qualitatively ran the gamut from advising to business and advertising management, but only five indicated any kind of editorial input. One publication has an online editor, three have an editorial adviser and one respondent wrote, “editorial.”

The Campus Press has one full-time non-faculty, professional staff member, who is the adviser. The Campus Press adviser is responsible for advising, journalism instruction and business and advertising management, but not content.

Web features: n=55

If you post a news Web site, does it offer regular:


Yes -- 28 -- 50.9% No -- 27 -- 49.1% 55 -- 100%


Yes -- 34 -- 61.8% No -- 21 -- 38.2% 55 -- 100%

Student TV or radio news:

Yes -- 24 -- 43.6% No -- 31 -- 56.4% 55 -- 100%

Streamed video content:

Yes -- 33 -- 60.0% No -- 22 -- 40.0% 55 -- 100%

Still photo slideshows:

Yes -- 44 -- 80.0% No -- 11 -- 20.0% 55 -- 100%

The Campus Press features podcasts, blogs, student TV news, streamed video content and still photo slideshows.

Note: Respondents checked multiple answers.

How do you measure the success of the publication – other? (Respondents gave qualitative standards to measure success)

Respondents wrote the following subjective answers:

Academic assessment of the publication Breaking news before local newspapers Emails of who likes us vs. who don’t Jobs, internships of graduates Lack of negative emails Personal responses, letters to the editor Program assessment to measured outcomes Put out a good paper, be happy with it Quality of the product Student placement in good jobs Student success in future employment Students get good internships Success of student graduates We conduct regular reader surveys

Note: Data were collected as to specific profit and circulation numbers, as well as awards. But these were inconsistent across respondents and difficult to compare. We can provide this data upon request.

The Campus Press measures success by Web hits, by breaking news before local news sources, by readership email responses and by quality of the product.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts