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Monday, October 20, 2014

Letter to the Editor: The Current is worth saving

The Student Activities Budget Committee has denied funding to the UMSL student paper, The Current.

April 23, 2014

The Maneater reserves the right to edit letters and columns for style and length.

As a former member of the staff of The Current, the student newspaper of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, I am dismayed to learn that the Student Activities Budget Committee has denied funding for the paper for the 2014-2015 school year. An appeal has been made by The Current and denied by the SABC. If the SABC has the final word and if The Current is left without a budget allocation, this could very well be the end of a great, long tradition of student journalism at UM-St. Louis. I would urge student and faculty leaders to overturn this decision.

While it is true that in today's society, a greater number of individuals are getting their news from online news outlets, print journalism still has a place in our world and should still have a place at UM-St. Louis, as it has for many years. The Current has been the only campus watchdog, serving as the voice of the UM-St. Louis student body. Nearly every major university, and many other two-year colleges, have a paper of record and that is as it should be. Campus life at the university should, and to an extent does, model real life. There are jobs on campus for students, choices of housing, places to eat and shop and a governing body run by students. Surely there would be a newspaper run by a group of student journalists. At some universities, campus boundaries and surrounding community boundaries have blurred as the student publications there have become the record for the community. While this hasn't quite happened here, The Current serves a vital purpose.

Like any newspaper, The Current gets information relevant to the student body distributed en masse weekly. The Current is there to ask the questions the student, and for that matter the parent or taxpayer, wants and needs to know. Looking into the archives of The Current, which can be accessed digitally or in print at the campus library, one can find instances where The Current has been the watchdog that broke many major stories on campus. This, in many instances, has led to major news outlets covering stories on campus and it has even affected some change over the years.

Though it has struggled over the past few years, The Current has worked hard to fund itself. It's a business that needs advertising subscribers and that will always be a major part of the survival of the paper. However, it needs a budget. All businesses have one. Unfortunately, the way things are set up at UM-St. Louis, The Current is at the mercy of the Student Government Association and the SABC. The SGA represents the student body at UM-St. Louis and The Current is and always has been there, to tell the student body exactly what the SGA has done and what it means for the student and all parties involved. Both are vital to campus life. Any student, any administrator, any taxpayer and any alumni member can see the importance of both. And while it is true that many news outlets are failing, money is being lost and voices are being silenced. The Current can be saved and is an important voice of the student body.

While a preventative action plan may be needed and comprehensive training given to its staff to avoid future budget problems, The Current needs a lifeline now. As a former staff member of The Current, I strongly urge all students, teachers, administrators and taxpayers to voice your concern and support a budget allocation for the paper. Once again, I urge the SGA, the SABC, the Chancellor, the UM System President and the Board of Curators to reconsider this decision and find a way to fund The Current, a vital voice and an award-winning institution for decades at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

— _ Hank Burns, hflb4@yahoo.com_

Former Sports Editor, The Current (2002-04)

Former Vice-President (2002-03), Missouri College Media Association

Secretary (2001-02), Missouri College Media Association

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