|Even though university press weighs highest in importance relative to other student-led activities, students are not satisfied with its current performance in the student community. Data provided by Ewha Media Center.
Many universities struggle to battle the recession of their newspapers. In addition to improving their articles and printing interesting stories, campus newspapers have stretched beyond paper and to online. Nearly all run their own websites, and many have launched Facebook and Instagram accounts, the two most popular SNS platforms in Korea, for more publicity.
“There have been numerous talks to actively utilize the new media,” said Han So-yeon, editor-in-chief of Hanyang News. “Personally, decrease in readership due to unfamiliarity of printed media is critical [for campus newspapers].”
Despite such efforts to approach readers with a more familiar channel, online expansion has revealed to have relatively futile results, as it burdened campus journalism with new and difficult tasks of attracting followers, continuous updates, and content control.
“Campus press needs to promote themselves on online student communities more,” said Han Kyu-hye, a junior majoring in Chemistry and Nanoscience. “Active communities such as Ewhaian and Everytime a good platform for newspapers to promote their articles. Though it may seem more casual and unconventional, the press can easily approach the students.”
Then, how do students really feel about university press?
Overall, the interviewed students agreed that the topics are severely limited only to campus news, where most articles have lost its immediacy and seem redundant for students. Many shared that the campus articles read more like promotion articles of school policies and events, resulting in their disappointment due to lack of diversity and objectivity.
“Personally, the newspapers lack entertainment factors which can attract students,” said Jung Woo-yeon, an International Studies student. “Most stories contain information that students know and so they don’t feel the need to read campus news. From this, the fact that not many students read the newspaper casts doubt as to whether it really is functioning as a newspaper.”
Jung’s distrust of university press is linked to its dependence on the school’s control. Many students expressed their distrust of its objectivity as most are directly affiliated with the administration.
“The very fact that the articles are reviewed by the university shows their lack of objectivity,” said an anonymous Public Administration student. “The newspapers are supposed to surveil whatever happens in the school, but since they are finalized by the school, it fails to fulfill its purpose.”
Although this viewpoint seems to be shared by many, last year’s survey conducted in Ewha showed that students’ attention towards campus newspaper has increased from that of in 2015.
The “2016 Student Satisfaction Survey,” surveyed 941 undergraduate and 540 graduate students through face to face interview from Nov. 21 to Dec. 9 last year. According to the report based on the survey, campus press gained 0.62 more points than in 2015, indicating students were more satisfied with the press relatively.
Despite the increase in satisfaction, the survey also displayed how in respect to student’s acknowledgement of importance of campus press the satisfaction was very low.
“There seems to be miscommunication between students and campus press,” said Han. “Last year, some students vented anger and disappointment for the language used in articles concerning the illicit admission scandal. I believe that compared to external press, students expect more accurate representation of their opinions, but campus press failed to deliver. Maybe that is why satisfaction is lower relative to its importance.”
Though Ewha’s survey cannot represent all university students’ sentiment, it is evident many recognize the importance campus press plays in the student community and wish for its revival.
“It is a shame that campus journalism is not as popular as it used to be,” commented Oh Eun-ju, a Korea University student. “As a third party to this issue, it may seem distant and irrelevant. But campus journalism is, without doubt, a very important mediator between the students and school, and I sincerely hope the efforts put into its revival is successful.”