School publication makes strides to become a daily

The Famuan increased frequency this semester, adding an additional special issue each month. That meant twice a month Rattlers could find a Friday issue donning the stands. Some of those Friday, usually theme-oriented, issues did not go over so well. It was probably because the university community did not know when they were coming. The schedule was sporadic, but we did continue to uphold the banner of being the most frequently published newspaper among HBCUs.

This semester, The Famuan staff published more newspapers than any other staff in the history of the University. Those special issues were more of an experiment to challenge the staff to increase frequency as we head down the road to becoming a daily. In college terms, that means at least four times a week.

This fall, we hope to top that. The Famuan plans to publish three times a week every week.

One student questioned the effectiveness of this venture. He wondered whether students would have time to read The Famuan and keep up with their class assignments. He withdrew the question and hastened from my office before I could enlighten him.

It is time we became connoisseurs of information. Dick Gregory, speaking at Morehouse College, said, “Information is power.” He further explained that those who have access to more than one news source and can make decisions based on a vast knowledge are the ones with the power.

Therefore, I say to that young man, increased frequency could only enhance the university community. We need to be busy acquiring information. A former editor in chief told me that The Famuan is the only newspaper some students read. That is flattering, but it puts an awesome responsibility on a young, inexperienced staff. Hence, it is essential that The Famuan provides as much information as it can as often as it can. You know–readers are leaders.

This semester was a start. Mission accomplished. Now it is time to move at warp speed to claim our spot among traditionally white institutions. Numerous TWIs have dailies, even those with enrollments less than ours and no journalism program. Why can’t we?

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In this issue, you will find an effort by FAMU High. This is an attempt by The Famuan staff to mentor and to make the high school the feeder program it was intended to be. Unlike the university edition, The Fang is not all student work. Advisers can give them a hefty hand.

Plans are for The Fang to be published once a month. With more training, The Fang’s frequency can increase as well.

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Finally, at this year’s student Senate budget hearing, the independence question came up. We were asked, “What strides are you making to become independent like the FSView?” I had to pause.

Let me clear the air.

The Famuan does not intend to become independent. Independence would mean that The Famuan could be wrestled away from the students and owned by any business-minded person. Independence would mean that The Famuan would have to raise enough start-up capital to move off campus. We would have to purchase our own computers, furniture and other equipment.

Independence would mean that all support from the University would be severed. A line of credit would need to be established so that newspapers can be printed. Right now our print budget is at least $30,000 a year. We would need to pay salaries, too.

Would we be able to find investors? The demise of Choice magazine should make that evident.

And independence would mean that the office would need to be staffed with committed personnel whose first mission would be to make money and not to serve the students and provide training for them.

Speaking with a colleague who knows the history of this relationship, I was reminded of our mission and the apathy that is evident in the black community. He echoed the sentiments expressed in a column that admonished us to support our black businesses. What is the guarantee that our community would support an independent newspaper? There is none.

Thank you for your suggestion, student Senators, but no thanks. We are fine where we are.

Valerie D. White is an assistant professor of journalism and the adviser of The Famuan.