June 28, 2017

EDITORIAL: Facing two years in exile, the Hornet fights to stay on campus

The State Hornet is the only organization in the University Union being moved to Folsom Hall due to the upcoming construction project, in a move that will decimate our ability to do our jobs. (Photo illustration by Joel Boland)

Read letters of support from professional journalists and State Hornet alums.

The State Hornet is at serious risk of being moved off campus in a decision that will decimate our ability to cover your campus as it deserves to be covered.

The current newsroom, located in the University Union, is going to be demolished at the end of this semester to make way for an 18-24 month construction projectSeveral other campus organizations and facilities are being moved, but The State Hornet is the only one being moved off the Sacramento State campus.

At worst, this demonstrates the administration’s desire to keep student reporters at arm’s length, and at best shows its ignorance of the importance of a free student press to the students it serves.

The State Hornet already pays $21,000 annually to the University Union for space, which we will continue to pay during our exile in addition to improvements we will have to make to the new space that awaits us in Folsom Hall.

It’s imperative that you — who along with your 30,531 peers and classmates pay $165,000 per year for a student newspaper — have an independent voice and platform on our campus where you can make your voices heard and where we can keep the administration honest and accountable. 

“Now more than ever, the next generation of journalists and media workers must be ensured adequate education and training.”

In moving The State Hornet off campus, reporters will be limited in being able to respond to and report on breaking news. The 30-40 minute round trip alone will result in newsworthy situations being over by the time a reporter gets there, or the matter being ‘resolved’ by police without any eyewitness being available to us.

The concept of The State Hornet moving to Folsom Hall is as ludicrous as the concept of The Sacramento Bee working from Folsom, California.

If we had not been on campus, we may not have known about dangerous amounts of lead discovered in Santa Clara Hall, a protest in the wake of the police killing of Keith Scott in North Carolina, a protest by anti-abortion activists (and subsequent counter-protest) in the Library Quad, and protests just last week following Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency.

This not only hinders our ability to do our jobs as journalists, but as students. Some of us take full loads of classes and would not reasonably have the ability to stop by a far-away newsroom during the day without jeopardizing making it to and studying for classes or attending office hours.

Not only journalism majors are on the staff of The State Hornet, either, but also students from 13 majors including photography, graphic design, economics and environmental studies.

Now more than ever, the next generation of journalists and media workers must be ensured adequate education and training.

Established newsrooms and newspapers are closing their doors because those newspapers are rapidly losing income. How are investigative stories such as the Washington Post’s reporting on Watergate or the Boston Globe’s Spotlight series going to be done without the resources a newspaper provides?

The president-elect of the United States has banished reporters to press pens and singled them out for the derision of the crowd. How can the press do the best reporting it can on a presidential election in an environment like this?

Whether or not Sacramento State intends to be party to this disturbing pattern that is undermining our free press, it is still moving us away from you, the students of this university, and the stories that matter to you.

Doing so not only casts doubt on whether this administration wants the next generation of journalists to be “Made at Sac State,” not only whether it takes the fees you pay for a student-run press seriously, but indeed whether it takes journalism’s crucial importance to our democracy seriously in a time when the profession is under attack.

The State Hornet is being faced with an ultimatum from the University — exile to Folsom Hall, or nothing.

This is your money. This is your newspaper. This is your voice. Now is the time to use your voice.

President Robert Nelsen can be reached at [email protected]. His phone number is 916-278-7737.  

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20 Comments

  1. I’m a little confused why news cannot be reported remotely from campus and must be reported from the newsroom. Google Drive? Any other document sharing program? Cell phones to call or text to alert a State Hornet writer who’s on campus of something going on in a certain spot? I guess I’m just not seeing the problem. The 30 to 40 minute round trip is a bit of an overstatement if you have a bike and the will to get somewhere quickly. But I also just can’t imagine that being away from the newsroom means a reporter can’t write and submit articles from any other location as long as they have a device. I think I would need to know more about how a news room works and how location of the office is essential to reporting before I can fully agree that Folsom Hall (which has tons of room and is a very nice building) isn’t a good option. The writers are students. Someone must always been on campus either between classes or studying. Right? They could be alerted to activities on campus remotely because they’re already there, right? I dunno. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about but I’m just not seeing a huge issue. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And if the office needs to move then there should definitely be a way to make everything work. People are adaptable and we have tons of technology available to us.

    • Chloe, imagine a city’s newspaper being run outside of the city it serves. Say, for instance, The Sacramento Bee, a daily news paper which reports on everything in Sacramento County, was located in Modesto. Do you think The Bee would adequately provide news to the people of Sacramento? The issue is similar in this instance. Sac State is an institute of higher learning where young professionals learn to gain real world knowledge in their chosen study. Taking away a campus-accessible newsroom would hinder that completely. Anyway, I hope that helps you understand the importance.

  2. I do understand the need to be on the campus and be able to be there immediately when an issue happens but use of document sharing like a previous commenter said like Google Drive could help in this instance.
    The newsroom is where you make it. So you could always have reporters staked out on campus during certain times of the day doing the high traffic hours so that they can always lounge around in the union in the lounge areas, library or coffee shop on campus to be near locations that maybe hotspots for issues such as Library quad .
    You can also try to be more understanding of the needs of the union and how they’re trying to make it better for students . some students do not or did not feel welcome into the newsroom and felt ostracized by the staff. Not saying this played in any part of the newspaper not getting placed directly on campus but in Folsom Hall you will have easier access to UTAPS and the nursing program and you will be able to follow what’s going on on campus still because it is still campus property.
    I Understand the importance of being close to the action and being directly on campus but you can make the best of the situation and build off of this and build a strong staff for when you do return to a campus location that is on the main campus.
    I know it sucks to not be on campus and a half to almost drive to campus but there are shuttles and students that are in the newsroom what to be creative on where they can report stuff them and have to really be out there for students to see incidents to get to know that way they know there is a paper because honestly I have a lot of friends that don’t even read the State Hornet because I didn’t even know we had one.
    Do wish you all the best and hopefully within that time period that you are off-campus you may build a find something on campus. I also wish you to know that the news is not reported out of the newsroom, the news is reported on the street,in the classroom and where ever the news happens; the newsroom is where a lot of work gets done but the news doesn’t come from the newsroom.

  3. Unless State Hornet reporters hang out in the newsroom waiting for a story to break instead of being out in the field where ALL the news gathering takes place, this is a non-issue. In the real world, this type of thing happens all the time. Newsrooms relocate, shut down, or evolve. If you are attempting to prepare students for the quote unquote “Real World” writing this editorial sends the wrong message to them. THIS CAN AND WILL HAPPEN to people who enter journalism, so best to get used to it while it’s still safe and your livelihood doesn’t depend on it. No one ever said journalism was easy.

    In my opinion, the Hornet should equip everyone with a laptop and a good camera and have them file stories from campus. Unless you are administrative or support staff, there is no reason why a reporter or photographer ever need to step foot in the newsroom. News meetings can take place via e-mail, Skype, conference call or better yet, at one of the many eateries or coffee shops on campus where the student can order a pint or a latte.

    • The State Hornet is the “real world.” It reports, develops and publishes multimedia stories every day of the week. It has a budget and an audience that pays for its product—$3 per student, every semester. It has advertisers based both on- and off-campus. It is subject to the same laws and ethical codes of “real world” press and media entities nationwide. It has insurance and payroll taxes. It requires the same collaborative work space that any of those other entities require to organize and execute strategies for every part of its operation. I don’t know any “real world” news organizations that simply assign reporters a laptop and a good camera and say “OK, go find news,” or that would opt for news meetings at a coffee shop or bar versus a secure newsroom. I wouldn’t want to be a part of such a news organization, and I don’t think any self-respecting journalist, editor, photographer, designer or other professional would want that either.

      To suggest, “Unless you are administrative or support staff, there is no reason why a reporter or photographer ever need to step foot in the newsroom,” misunderstands how newsrooms work. Reporters are one part of it, and they should indeed have a regular newsroom presence to develop and discuss their work outside the newsroom. Designers collaborate with editors to develop print and multimedia packages. Meetings are held to determine the course of an organization’s long-term and short-term coverage—how and where to assign the reporters, photographers, videographers and other staffers to do their field work.

      A newsroom provides a logistical base to coordinate coverage in times of crisis or emergency (see last week’s outburst of protests at Sac State). It provides a place for everyone from interview subjects to political candidates to other curious students to drop by and talk—to put faces to names, to build visibility and trust. If nothing else, it’s where tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of computers, cameras, printers, and other office materials—paid for by students and maintained by the university—are kept secure and accounted for.

      The field is changing, to be sure, and the staffers at The State Hornet have worked hard to adapt to these changes. The journalism program is trying to keep up with them as well. The Hornet will find a way to do great work no matter where the university decides it should go. The issue is less about that decision than about the disregard that the current plan displays for students—both those who pay like everyone else for the education and preparation they expect in their major, and the thousands more who pay $3 every semester to fund a proper campus news operation that isn’t just a reflection of Sac State PR.

      As you note, no one said journalism was easy. It is easy, though, to see the shameful, perhaps scandalous failure of this university to do right by all of these students. And we agree in one regard: The Hornet doesn’t need a newsroom to see and report the news in that failure.

      • Oh please. Being a tad bit overdramatic? It’s only 2 years! Did the university say it was shutting down the Hornet? Didn’t think so. And if you think that the real world entails having your way – student or not – then you are sadly mistaken. Newsrooms close all the time because of lack of funding AKA ad revenue. The very fact that the students pay for the operation sets it apart. Most newsrooms aren’t subsidized by student fees. So when you say “Real World” i have to laugh. When is the last time that the Hornet gave a paycheck to its reporters? LOL.That’s what I thought. Journalism isn’t free bud. Unless, you get it from Twitter.

        And the reality is that a lot of online news companies do just that. If you’ve never heard of reporters who are completely mobile and are able to use their laptops and iPhones to file stories, then you are not with the times. Plain and simple. Journalism is evolving, and if the students don’t evolve with it, then they will sink when they get out of college. And yes, there are many self-respecting journalists out there who are one man shows, doing journalism, writing editing and in some cases paginating all from their mac books. It’s a bit insulting to suggest that they have no self respect.

        Everything that can be done in a newsroom can be done via phone. Skype or in person. The newsroom is just a building. It’s the people tell the stories.
        So stop crying, assign your reporters a schedule to cover the campus and roll with the punches. It’s only 2 years.

  4. This is not acceptable. We moved The Hornet when I was Editor in Chief to its current space in an effort to make things easier for other departments, to save on rent cost, and to make it more accessible for students while putting reporters closer to the action. Find another solution, Sac State or you will do your students another grave disservice.

  5. I don’t know all the issues at play, so I’m not inclined to get deep in the weeds here, but two things come to mind.

    1.) If only the newsroom is being moved off-campus–if everyone else that has to move can stick around–has there been an explanation as to why that is?

    2.) Even if there’s a legitimate reason for putting the newsroom off-campus, having to pay their rental fee anyway is absolute bollocks. $21k is a fortune for a school newspaper. If the administration is intent on moving them off-campus, then there had better be a damned good and well-explained reason for making them continue to pay for space on campus that they don’t have.

  6. As a State Hornet alumni and journalism major alumni, I could care less about the State Hornet moving off campus. I could care even less if they folded to neo-lib propaganda spewing entity masqurading as an objective newspaper. In the grander scheme of things, it is sad to see objective journalism extinct. Today’s media is nothing more than liberals shoving their misaligned view/morals and agenda down our throats. The nation spoke concerning the election and the State Hornet did nothing in support of our President, only to stir your anger and disapproval of the democratic process. What were you covering? Cry babies who didnt get their way ‘protesting’ the results. A complete hypocrisy of what accepting and democratic values instill. You didn’t get your way so you are going to incite riots and damage property and injure people.

    In your ignorant mind you actually believe you are effecting change and influencing the school President by being on campus? Keep smoking the legal weed. What is next on the list to protest? Legal beastiality?

    Good riddance.

  7. The sad story unspoken here is that the Hornet repeatedly dragged its heels on relocating to a new space, opining that they were above being moved. The fact of the matter is that more cooperative groups affected by this construction that worked with the University got first pick at the choice locations. Meanwhile the crybabies got left with crap. Instead of lying to the campus about how this all played out, how about you come clean?

    • This is not true. The university can spin it like this as much as they want, but it is not true.

      Here are the facts: The Hornet has a charter with the university to provide space. We’ve sought a permanent classroom space for years, well before this matter arose. We have continued that search into this year—after signing a 2016-17 lease with no terms, conditions or deadlines stipulated for relocating. All of this is documented and publicly known.

      Of course we knew a move was imminent, but we committed to the Union like everyone else and agreed with the Union to continue discussions. As the landlord, the burden is on the Union—not The State Hornet—to propose a plan in the event of relocation. We did not receive a plan or any communication since July. The Union dropped the ball, and now The Hornet is on the hook for it.

  8. Too bad you’re not posting any of the very good advice and criticism you’ve received from past Hornet editors, alumnae and faculty advisors (many of whom are professional journalists and speak from experience apparently lacking at the paper today; boycotting the J program? Are you serious?).

  9. I just finished hearing Joel talk about the ‘concerns’ of the State Hornet relocation, but they really don’t seem valid. For example, he talks about security. Well let me tell you, when you go into these crime ridden neighborhoods to cover a shooting or whatever, you aren’t going to be all that secure. When you are covering a fire, or a major accident, again, you won’t be at all secure. SO tell me how walking from the State Hornet’s new digs is going to be a ‘dangerous’ situation. You guys do have bikes don’t ya?
    Another one of the concerns is also invalid, which is that there will be some type of hindrance in covering the campus. Not true. If your reporters are doing their work correctly, they don’t need to be hanging out all day in the newsroom waiting for things to happen. They need to be out in the field – the campus. It’s only 2 years, deal with it. Also, who tells the Dean that the Hornet is working on getting a new place and doesn’t actually do it? The Dean stated that the Hornet was brought into the conversation fairly quickly, as early as Spring 2015. So how come it took a year to find a spot on campus?

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