From March 15 to April 5, more than 20 college newspapers across the nation, including The Michigan Daily, will participate in the College Media Madness competition to earn the most money for their newsroom. The competition is organized by Syracuse University's independent news organization, The Daily Orange.

Tara Moore, The Daily’s business manager, said the idea is to mimic the March Madness hype while raising money for student journalism. 

“We’re seeing all these different university basketball programs come together — so we figured it’d be a lot of fun to have the same kind of rivalry,” Moore said. “There are a bunch of different schools that have all come together to fundraise and have some friendly competition.” 

The Michigan Daily will be accepting donations via this link, and contest coordinators will be updating the rankings frequently. 

“In many communities, these outlets are the primary source of news,” a statement on the CMM website reads. “College journalism fills a void left by the closure of newsrooms across the country, one that has rapidly accelerated amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But these organizations need your help. By donating to a student newsroom, you’re supporting the next generation of journalists.” 

Moore said the COVID-19 pandemic has made the past year financially difficult for the Ann Arbor community. As a result, The Daily has lost significant funding from local advertising. 

“It is no secret print journalism and student journalism as a whole is struggling and going through a tough time right now,” Moore said. “And the pandemic is no help to that, and so we want to get any and all support that we can from different donors.” 

Claire Hao, The Daily’s editor-in-chief, said this money will be critical to helping The Daily support its journalists so they can provide important and up-to-date coverage for the local and University communities.

“The Michigan Daily is a free service,” Hao said. “… But none of that work is cost-free, even though we provide it for free.” 

All funds raised will go directly into The Michigan Daily Program Fund to support essentials like travel to cover away games and news events, printing and distribution, updating equipment and software as well as conference and competition fees.

Currently, The Daily’s Sports section is hard at work capturing Michigan men’s basketball in March Madness action. Managing Sports Editor Lane Kizziah said The Daily’s Sports section is unique in its ability to cover so many different revenue and non-revenue sports. 

“We are one of the few outlets that has the quantity of people on our staff to be able to cover things like that,” Kizziah said. “I think it’s because we get people so excited about covering things and writing stories, and we just have such a great community in the section which really helps us work.” 

Managing Sports Editor Kent Schwartz said fundraising events like College Media Madness are critical to helping build that community. 

“(Sports Writers) get these experiences and they get these opportunities that these fundraisers offer,” Schwartz said. “(These funds allow them) … to be able to go on these road trips and to make lifelong friends.” 

Hao said The Daily has seen an explosion in the number of staff members joining, with about 100 new staffers over the past two semesters. Hao said she thinks people are looking to get more involved on campus and stay informed during a virtual semester. However, she said increased staff size has stretched The Daily’s budget and made it all the more difficult to pay staffers adequately, limiting equitable access to the newsroom

“We’re asking for anyone who’s ever enjoyed or gotten some useful information out of our work to consider supporting it — supporting the student journalists that are learning so much from doing it,” Hao said.

Daily Staff Reporter Paige Hodder can be reached at phodder@umich.edu.