Posts Tagged ‘Daily Tar Heel’

The latest rankings report listing the country’s “Best College Newspapers has been released by Princeton Review.  The papers are listed below, in order of their selection.

Penn State’s Daily Collegian vaulted to the top, following in the footsteps of its CMM “College Newspaper of the Year” honors earlier this summer.

The Daily Kansan moved up dramatically as well.  The Red & Black, The Michigan Daily, The Daily Nexus at UC Santa Barbara, The Rocky Mountain Collegian at Colorado State University, and The Technician at North Carolina State University all jumped onto the list after not appearing on the 2011 version.  Meanwhile, The Daily Northwestern and The Daily Texan suffered big drops.  The Battalion at Texas A&M had the biggest spiral– dropping from the list after appearing at #5 last year.  The Minnesota Daily, The Daily Mississippian, The Daily Campus at UCONN, and The Hilltop at Howard University also disappeared from the current version.


The Princeton Review rankings are not without controversy.  As Bryan Murley from the Center for Innovation in College Media confirmed two summers ago, the process by which these papers achieve the “Best” distinction is, well, fairly ridiculous.

Yet, the rankings receive more attention from the public and mainstream media than every other student journalism contest and competition, including the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker awards (the closest the student press has to the Pulitzer Prizes).  Why?  My guess, without sarcasm or cynicism: It’s an offshoot of the attention given to the sexier rankings such as “Best Party Schools.”

1. The Daily Collegian, Penn State University

2. The Daily Tar Heel, University of North Carolina

3. Yale Daily News, Yale University

4. The Brown Daily Herald, Brown University

(Tie) 5. The Badger Herald, University of Wisconsin-Madison

(Tie) 5. The Daily Cardinal, University of Wisconsin-Madison

6. The University Daily Kansan, Kansas University

7. The Diamondback, University of Maryland

8. The Independent Florida Alligator, University of Florida

9. The Daily Nexus, UC Santa Barbara

10. The Red & Black, University of Georgia

11. The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell University

12. The Rocky Mountain Collegian, Colorado State University

13. The Daily Orange, Syracuse University

14. The Daily Gamecock, University of South Carolina

15. The Tufts Daily, Tufts University

16. The Michigan Daily, University of Michigan

17. The Post, Ohio University

18. Technician, North Carolina State University

19. The Daily Texan, University of Texas at Austin

20. The Daily Northwestern, Northwestern University


College Newspaper of the Year, 2011-2012: The Daily Collegian, Penn State University

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A full quarter.  One-fourth.  25 percent.  As The Daily Tar Heel recently revealed in a wonderful, astounding report, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill “25 percent of all meals bought through campus dining plans are wasted each semester.”

In the write-up by Katie Quine, the high percentage prompts a student-admin. blame game: Students claim they are forced into plans that basically require them to pay for excess food, while the dining director argues (as paraphrased by Quine) that the “large percentage of unused meals can be attributed to students buying meal plans that don’t match their lifestyles.”

Depending on the perspective, the “waste money” is not simply going to waste– the funds are used to keep dining services operating.  In addition, the wastefulness also apparently keeps meal prices down.  “If students were to eat every meal they purchased, meal plan prices would be higher, [the dining director] said. ‘For a plan that includes 14 meals per week, we charge $6.67 (per meal),” he said. “You would never see an all-you-can-eat meal for $6.67 anywhere else.'”  It’s an interesting assertion, but does that really split the difference with how much students are spending on what ends up being uneaten food?

The bottom line: It’s time for a fresh look at campus food costs.

Related Questions

What are the meal plan options for students at your school?  How do they feel about the options?  What are their suggestions for alternatives?  What sort of say do students have in meal plan and dining options?  How much money are they paying for meals each semester or academic year, individually and in total?  Who controls the meal costs and plan options at the school?  How are those decisions made?  How much have on-campus dining expenses for students increased in recent years?  How does it compare to general inflation and the rate of increase for your school’s tuition, room & board, and textbook expenses?  How much of the meal plans are wasted?  How much money does this waste add up to for the school?  What is done with the extra funds?  Who makes the decision on how to allot the “waste funds”?  Do students have any input?  And in deference to the fantastic Daily Tar Heel infographic below, how does your school’s meal plan waste compare to the waste at other area schools or schools in your athletics conference or schools of similar size nationwide?

Multimedia Option

Run a photo slideshow of select food and drinks available at breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the campus dining halls, accompanied by the prices students technically pay for them via their meal plan and what they cost at a local supermarket or wholesaler.

Offbeat Option

Engage a small group of students to avoid the dining hall or other on-campus food options for a few weeks, instead eating only off-campus or items purchased themselves and stored in their room (or grabbed from friends).  Have them record every expense, a list of the food and drinks consumed, and a running set of responses to the experience, including possibly their reactions to how accessible various food and drinks were, what meals they were most and least motivated to attempt without the dining halls, and the relative health comparisons of what they chowed down on their own.

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A Daily Tar Heel column at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill currently nabbing comments and attention argues that even amid a down economy most students are NOT majoring in something simply because they think it will ensure oodles of cash upon graduation.

According to Patricia Laya, a columnist whose work I really enjoy, “[M]ost of us choose our majors based on what we like to do, even while knowing it might not be financially beneficial.  And we might be right on the money.  Most people will graduate with higher GPAs if they study something they are passionate about, and high GPAs land jobs.  Not only that, it won’t hurt your graduate school applications either.  Tough economic times have forced us look at higher education as a return on an investment, but how can we really put a price on what we know?

One of Laya’s latter points: In the end, in many cases, your exact major doesn’t really matter.  In her words, “[B]asic skills are transferable, and the ability to learn quickly, be a good team-player and apply critical thinking can be applicable to any job in any economy.”

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The Princeton Review has released its annual listing of the biggest and best at colleges and unis nationwide.  Along with rundowns of the top party schools, school athletic facilities, and student radio stations, the Review has named the best U.S. college newspapers.

The top 20 sways heavily toward indie pubs at large state schools that publish just about daily and still enjoy large print circs.  One heartening name to see on the list: The Hilltop at Howard University, which went through a rough financial patch back in 2008.

The full list is below.  By the way, the Review only names the schools on its site (free registration required to access it), not the student papers affiliated with them.  So before scrolling down this post, a fun game for the j-geeks out there: the student newspaper knowledge test. How many student papers can you name from the Review’s list of schools, without Googling?  (I nabbed 19 out of 20.  Sorry Battalion!  Brief mental block. Oh, and WVU, yes, I needed a spell check on Athenaeum.) :)

1. The Yale Daily News, Yale University

2. The Daily Tar Heel, University of North Carolina

3. The Diamondback, University of Maryland

4. The Hilltop, Howard University

5. The Battalion, Texas A&M University

6. The Daily Collegian, Penn State University

7. The Harvard Crimson, Harvard University

8. The State News, Michigan State University

9. The Chronicle, Duke University

10. The Daily Reveille, Louisiana State University

11. The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University

12. The Daily Texan, University of Texas at Austin

13. The Daily Bruin, UCLA

14. The Independent Florida Alligator, University of Florida

15. The Indiana Daily Student, Indiana University

16. The Badger Herald, University of Wisconsin-Madison

17. The Daily Northwestern, Northwestern University

18. The Daily Mississippian, University of Mississippi

19. The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell University

20. The Pipe Dream, State University of New York at Binghamton

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Do not mess with The Daily Tar Heel!  Student staffers at the venerable University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus newspaper were dealing with the usual stresses of a looming print deadline this past Sunday night.  And then the bomb dropped.  Or at least the threat of one, which forced the evacuation of a few UNC campus buildings, including the student union that houses the DTH newsroom.


Instead of packing it in, the staff continued putting together the paper and being student journalists extraordinaire, on the street.  As DTH top ed. Allison Nichols told The News &  Observer in a very entertaining interview:

We assembled across the street from our office on Raleigh Road. . . . Literally under a street light.  We had a few computers and we were posting breaking news to our website. We were having folks call any spokesmen or all the various police units and so forth to figure out what was going on. We had people walking around in pairs trying to figure out where, exactly, the barriers were where you could and couldn’t go.


They eventually put the print paper to bed at 5 a.m., four and a half hours after the normal 12:30 a.m. deadline.  In the interim, they updated the campus and outside world with real-time eyewitness Tweets and a story on the DTH Web site that received roughly 50 reader comments that night.  (Here’s a later version of the story basically summing everything up and a blog recount of what went down.)


A true example of mobile journalism, in action.  In the long-term, I see an award or two looming.  In the short term, I see naps, lots of naps, for the staff.  Both will be well-deserved.

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As I wrote in early October, “The story of the student press so far this semester: The existence of the first sustained crack in college print papers’ seeming invincibility to the online takeover and economic downturn.”


Since then, the economy has continued to collapse faster than Amy Winehouse’s career, prompting an unprecedented ad-revenue slowdown and a cost-cutting mentality at some student papers nationwide, according to a new Daily Princetonian report.


With the “bottom dropping out of the economy,” as the business manager of The Daily Pennsylvanian put it, the biggest disappearance from the ad blitz of times past’ has been financial and consulting companies, who typically place advertisements in papers prior to appearing on campus to recruit students.  Stanford Daily business manager and COO: “There’s a huge gap between last fall and this fall.  Last fall we had all these recruiters for advertising.”

Insert Your Ad Here

Examples of cutbacks that papers have instituted or are considering due to the ad gaps: The Daily Northwestern is publishing “smaller papers with fewer pages because we don’t have advertising revenue to support our editorial news hole”; and The Indiana Daily Student is “looking at ways to economize in every area,” including staff pay rates and the paper’s travel budget.


Interestingly, The Daily Tar Heel continues to be a voice of optimism.  The DTH general manager notes that increased political advertising from the recent campaign season and current reader interest in men’s basketball puts the paper in “a unique position here to do better than some of our buddies.”  This echoes earlier statements about the paper’s financial robustness.


Aside from the DTH, is college papers’ current pessimism a sign that the end is growing ever-nearer for their print news products?  As I’ve stated before, I don’t think so.  This latest report and the in-the-red reality it presents for some papers is simply proof that college newspapers are not immune from the economic doom and gloom.  When an Obama-fied economy (hopefully) bounces back, the financial companies’ recruiting efforts and related ads will return, something The New York Times notes this morning is in the recruiters’ best interests.  And in turn, hopefully student papers’ ad-revenue stream will return to the black.

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