Letter to the Editor: No one on the SGA fully understands the importance of true, high-quality journalism

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"It seems as if our society does not care about the media anymore--which is why a concerning amount of people are so misinformed and poorly educated on actual facts." - Multimedia Editor / Drew Peltzman

Dear Editor,

My name is Tanya Kenevich, and I am a 2006 graduate of Rowan University; I graduated with a BA in Journalism. I started as a writer at The Whit and worked my way up to Editor in Chief. If it wasn’t for The Whit, I don’t know what my future would have been.

I was alerted of an article (Breaking News: SGA decreases The Whit’s budget by 35% while other clubs see increases up to 900% – The Whit (thewhitonline.com) which indicated that the SGA was looking to cut the budget of The Whit by 35% while increasing other clubs’ budgets— some by very large amounts. This budget was passed on the evening of April 22, 2024.

I’m not going to negatively comment on the other clubs that received increases, as that won’t fix the issue.

However, it is apparent that no one on the SGA fully understands the importance of true, high-quality journalism. In a world where poorly written blogs are looked at as “fact” and artificial intelligence continues to be a threat to almost every industry—including the media—why would SGA be a part of that vicious cycle and take money away from The Whit when the newspaper’s cause is more important than ever? 

Almost every day, I see budget cuts at major media outlets. According to NPR, The Los Angeles Times recently laid off nearly a quarter of its newsroom (A look at the wave of layoffs hitting the news industry: NPR). Powerhouse publications like Time magazine and National Geographic have seen large cuts. Sports Illustrated faces money issues. The Wall Street Journal is laying off workers. The Pulitzer Prize-winning digital media outlet BuzzFeed News (a booming website in my 20s) is essentially dead.

This is not about printing less hard copies or “printing bimonthly” (an actual suggestion at the budget meeting which explicitly shows how some people absolutely do not understand how “the news” works); this is about a lack of societal interest in quality media as a whole. It seems as if our society does not care about the media anymore–which is why a concerning amount of people are so misinformed and poorly educated on actual facts. According to the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (Addressing the decline of local news, rise of platforms, and spread of mis- and disinformation online – The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) | The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) (unc.edu), a decrease in trusted local news sources has resulted in a growing proportion of Americans getting their news and other information from social media. This increases the opportunity for people to get information that is inaccurate, poorly researched, or a flat-out lie. Reading researched articles from highly respected magazines and newspapers has been replaced by “I saw it on YourHamsterIsKillingYou.com; it was posted on Facebook… so it must be true!”

As I reminisce back to my college days, one of my favorite memories was reading The Whit in between classes. Even though I was on The Whit staff, I would still grab a paper from Bozorth Hall on Thursday mornings and read through it as I waited for my next class. I would flip through the crisp pages, the smell of ink on my fingers, as I reviewed the campus happenings, national news, features, and sports. When class started, I would walk in and see multiple people holding their weekly issues, even discussing some of the things they noticed in that weekly addition. It was a good feeling.

When I was an Editor at The Whit, our team worked to break a story about a meningitis case during Rush Week. This aided in educating students on what happened and what steps to take if they were concerned about contraction. During my time at The Whit, I learned how to work with teams of people, collaboration, researching, editing, how to find article ideas, and more. Our team became a trusted source of information; the years I worked at The Whit were some of the best years of my life.

This is a tough blow for The Whit, but it is not the end. I know the SGA’s decision is final and I’m sorry for what The Whit is going through. This is an unfortunate learning experience; the good news is that The Whit will keep a close eye on all the happenings on campus–including the SGA and its governmental choices, elections, the administration, etc. I look forward to all of those articles.

This is my message to The Whit: You need to continue to believe in the cause and the change. You are the future generation of journalists and you are the ones who will continue to educate people on what is going on in your community. Apparently, this wasn’t worth anything to the SGA but an $11,000 cut, but the work you continue to do is priceless. Don’t forget that.

Remember: When you get hit and fall down, get up, dust yourself off… and hit back harder.

Here rooting for you guys,

Tanya Kenevich

For comments/questions about this story, email the.whit.rowan@gmail.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline

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