College students and the crowd saved 3 newspapers in 6 months

Deadpool loves his fans. Credit: The Current at University of Missouri St. Louis.
Deadpool loves his fans. Credit: The Current at University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The newspaper of the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) sure knows how to throw one “Deadpool” of a party.

To cap off their recent crowdfunding campaign, newspaper staff at The Current gathered with university faculty and supporters for a night of pizza, trivia, rivalry and a silent auction led by Deadpool, the Marvel Comic’s antihero.

The man under the red-and-black mask, a wisecracking Nick Perez, served as the master of ceremonies leading tables through team trivia challenges.

Nerd prizes for attendees (who paid $10 for entry) included World War Z memorabilia signed by author Max Brooks,  tickets to a renaissance fair. The newspaper was a winner too, successfully crowdfunding $8,923.

“Since our school does not have a (journalism) program, I hope to keep our newspaper alive,” Anna Glushko Editor-and-Chief of the Current said on a YouTube update. “…Throughout this campaign, I was amazed to see how many people care about (the) newspaper.”

When the student-led UMSL newspaper found itself thousands of dollars in debt and denied aid from the university’s student government, they used the school’s new crowdfunding platform to pay for print editions and employee costs.11182226_921951141205546_2766871259967183038_n

Citing reduced circulation and declining funds, some student-led newspapers have turned to crowdfunding, at a time when more colleges are launching their own platforms for crowdfunding campaigns.

“I think it’s gone now beyond simply a trend, I think it’s [crowdfunding] more and more accepted as one viable method of acquiring funds. When papers face financial challenges they’ve never faced before it’s always part of the conversation,” said Dan Reimold, an assistant professor at St. Josephs University who writes about the college press at collegemediamatters.com.

To reduce debt and stay afloat, in March student-run newspaper The Review used University of Delaware’s crowdfunding platform to raise $8,300 toward a $9,900 goal. The campaign came after an 80 percent reduction in print circulation in 2013, Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Quartararo told Newark Post Online.

Last fall The Daily Free Press of Boston University raised more than $70,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to pay off its debts in only two days. Contributions in the thousands of dollars came from billionaire Ernie Boch Jr. and Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly.

After hearing about Boch Jr.’s $50,000 contribution, editor in chief Kyle Plantz of The Daily Free Press of Boston said that he had to “sit on the floor.”

“Why would someone who is not known in the journalism community want to donate to our college paper? It didn’t make sense,” Plantz wrote in an editorial for USA Today. “But after further reflection, our two large donors really sum up the reach of our campaign and the power of student journalism.”

In a story about why he chose last fall to crowdfund a photo workshop using University of Georgia’s crowdfunding platform, professor Mark Johnson said the school likely established a platform to reach young alumni, who may be more inclined to give to a crowdfunding campaign with a specific task rather than traditional donations.

“If you have an event coming up, something that falls outside of the normal funding routes, try this,” he said.

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Justin Cooper
Justin is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in American Literature at San Diego State University (SDSU). He has served as an editor of the Southwestern College Sun and a senior staff writer for the Daily Aztec at SDSU.

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