Experts say healthy relationship leads to positive experience

Competition between student and commercial newspapers does not always lead to a courthouse.In many university towns, journalists at school and town newspapers coexist in a cooperative atmosphere and work together to benefit print journalism, according to Jan Childress, president of College Media Advisers.The student newspaper at the University of Oregon has a very good relationship with the Eugene newspaper, according to Judy Riedel, the student paper’s adviser.She said the local professionals share their time and experience with the students. She said staff members from the local newspaper have served on the publications board of the student newspaper. Professional journalists have also come into the student newspaper’s office and talked with students.Riedel said the two papers have a healthy competition for advertising and stories.Another school with a complementary relationship is the University of Kansas. Tom Eblin, the adviser of the Daily Kansan, said one of the major reasons the two papers coexist peacefully is that they basically have different audiences. He said some coverage overlaps, but the student paper mainly covers the campus and the local paper mostly covers the town.The current economic strain on newspapers could be a reason for tensions between professionals and students, according to Childress. Everyone is concerned about their piece of the pie, Childress said, as more venues for news emerge and competition increases. This could lead to some of the conflict between student and commercial newspapers.Student newspapers exist to prepare people to work in commercial newspapers, Riedel said, and commercial newspapers really hurt themselves by creating conflicts with student journalists.Conflict is not necessarily harmful, Eblin said, because students should get used to what happens in the “real world.” This is a free country and anyone can start a paper, Eblin said, but he is confident that students can compete.Increased conflicts between students and professionals are disturbing, according to Childress. Student journalists have an important place in the profession.Forming better relationships between the professionals and students could be a good way to avoid conflict. Keeping the lines of communication open is helpful in maintaining a healthy relationship, according to Riedel.”We try to let [the local newspaper] know we appreciate their generosity,” Riedel said.