Texas A&M President sets end date for print publication of ‘The Battalion’
On Thursday, President Banks originally told the paper to immediately cease publication.
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Hours after The Battalion, Texas A&M University’s student newspaper, published an article detailing Texas A&M President M. Katherine Banks’ demand they cease printing immediately, the university has reversed course and will allow the paper’s print publication to continue through the end of the semester. At that point, the legacy newspaper will transition to a digital format. In a press release Friday afternoon, Texas A&M said that Banks’ conversations with student leadership led her to make the decision.
Battalion staffers said student leadership and the paper’s faculty advisor were first told of the decision to cease publication immediately on Thursday afternoon without any clear explanation of why the decision was being made. According to The Battalion, the costs of print editions and the paper’s staff are covered by print advertising in the weekly paper.
The Battalion Editor in Chief, Myranda Campanella, said when they received the notification to end publication effective immediately they were blindsided. She was told on Thursday about the decision. After a meeting the Banks Friday morning, she said the reversal was good news, but they’re hoping to keep the paper going beyond the semester.
“As far as the last 24 hours its been really unnerving to just kind of learn the miscommunication or lack of communication that is happening from upper-level leadership at A&M,” she said. “Taking that away is just unimaginable for not only current students but perspective students. It’s just a huge part of the training that a student journalist needs in order to peruse that as a profession.”
Banks said it is her strong belief that The Battalion, along with KAMU-TV and radio, should be housed in a proposed performing and fine arts center, along with a new journalism degree program. The idea was first brought forth in the University’s MGT consulting report last year, which suggested large structural changes to several Texas A&M colleges.
“I strongly believe in a robust journalism program, which is why I’m bringing back the degree and look forward to being the number one choice for students wanting a journalism degree,” Banks said. “With the return of the degree and The Battalion returning to a university department — combined with our new facilities and an innovative examination of the future of journalism at A&M — I believe we will elevate the profession and aid in restoring trust in the news media.”
Banks and Texas A&M have emphasized the need for Texas A&M student media to focus on journalism’s digital future. The university intends to cover the cost of any losses in print advertising revenue the paper may face.
“In many ways, we are at the start of a new and exciting era of journalism that will pull together new faculty, professionals from the industry and students to create new types of digital content. We want to give our student journalists the preparation to succeed in a rapidly changing industry,” Banks said. “While this is a difficult decision, I believe it’s the best path forward.”
Campanella said she has seen disagreement from their staff and readers with the reasoning they were given by Banks as to why they are shifting.
“There’s a quote in our article where Dr. Banks had said to us that it’s not her decision it’s the audience’s decision and I mean our twitter followers today can probably account to the audience doesn’t want this either,” she said.
The Battalion has been published in print on a daily, weekly or monthly basis since 1893, excluding a short period in World War I, and published online since 1997.
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