Indiana University's director of student media has been forced to resign because of financial distress at the Indiana Daily Student.
Student journalists say the move threatens the newspaper's independence. The IU Media School dean disagrees.
"The authority to hire a director, by the charter, belongs to the dean of the Media School," Dean James Shanahan said. "I stress to you, and to everyone, there has never been an instance where the Media School has tried to influence content in the IDS, nor will there ever be."
The IDS operates under a charter granted by the IU Board of Trustees. The student newspaper does not collect money from mandatory student fees, something students lobbied for in the late 1960s to ensure greater editorial independence and limit university control of content.
Advertising revenue became the primary source of funding, but changes in the industry have affected the newspaper's finances. Businesses have turned to social media sites to reach IU students instead of buying print advertisements. Classified ads have moved online as well, to sites such as Craigslist.
Advertising revenue started declining in 2008 during the economic recession. With the situation getting progressively worse, IU Student Media Director Ron Johnson suggested cutting the newspaper's print schedule for the 2015-16 school year — from five to just two days a week — as a way to reduce expenses. Shanahan was against the move.
"I suggested they not do that," he said. "It would have been a PR disaster, right at the change to the Media School."