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Student blogs take on campus newspapers

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that upstart student blogs are challenging their more established newsaper counterparts.

The article takes a look at how fledgling blogs at many universities are causing headaches for campus broadsheets — scooping stories, attracting online readers, and not to mention wooing advertisers.

From the Chonicle:

… (Student blogs) are challenging student newspapers in Web hits, says Daniel R. Reimold, a visiting assistant professor of journalism at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore, who studied nearly a dozen online student news outlets for a 2008 College Media Review article. Readers devour these sites. College officials fret over them. And competitors carp about their edgy methods, which sometimes include a publish-it-now-correct-it-later approach to campus rumors.

Davis Shaver, a sophomore at Penn State, scoops the 200-staffed Daily Collegian, from the comfort of his PSU dorm room with his blog Onward State, which has a staff of 20 and touts itself as “one of the quickest and most informative places for Penn State students, faculty, staff and alumni to find the news that matters most to them.”

The article also discusses the success of NYU Local, a blog launched by senior journalism major Cody Brown and the more established North by Northwestern, founded in 2006.

This is not a universally applauded procedure. Rossilynne Skena, editor in chief of the Collegian, reads Onward State daily and says the competition makes her paper better. But she holds her staff to traditional standards like avoiding anonymous sources, preventing reporters from covering groups to which they belong, and vetting information before printing it.

“Bloggers can post anything,” she says, and they easily retract errors. “For us, getting something wrong is very egregious.”

Maybe so, but campus newspapers could take a few cues from their Web counterparts.  As the Chronicle points out, few student blogs survive their founders’ graduation, but it’s certain that campus newspapers aren’t used to the competition. That competition could be what’s needed to help campus media thrive.

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