Let’s be honest: For the most part college newspapers (and I have read many across this nation) are shadows of their former selves and, sadly, The Michigan Daily is one of the better papers.
Although I don’t want to romanticize an earlier era, when I look at archives of college newspapers from 10 to 40 years ago, I see journalists taking chances, arts and entertainment writers seeking out interesting releases and events – not just the freebies they receive from major labels or the obvious independents – and a general interest in doing more than regurgitating press releases.
Actually, the only thing that has gotten better over the years, as far as I can tell, is the sports writing. A big part of this decline in quality is due to university papers seeing themselves as feeder programs for “real” press jobs. In preparing to become yes-men for streamlined local and national corporate outlets, college journalists have lost the fine art of muckraking, and arts editors are happy to assign for review the same albums that are reviewed in 80 other places that week so their writers can get “clips” to intern at “alternative” weeklies. On the other hand, sports writers, finally taken seriously because they actually increase a newspaper’s readership, have gotten better and better.
The horrible state of mainstream media, with its lack of funding for independent investigative journalism, editorial boards succumbing to ad revenue concerns and celebrity-birthday-fills-any-newshole mentality has leeched into college newspapers.
The fine line that separates any whack-job with a blog, and a journalist, is credibility. Luckily, the editors of the Daily have started to address this problem. The Michigan Daily finally has blogs.
Since journalists, college or otherwise, have little to no credibility in most citizens’ and consumers’ minds, why not just open the floodgates? There is a lot more nonsense to sift through with blogs, but it moves the audience from the “masses” to the “multitudes.” That is, there is not a mindless lump of moldable brains, but rhizomal networks of diverse interested parties who both produce and consume information.
Don’t get me wrong – there is still a need for college newspapers. I love the sound they make, the ink-stained hands and the daily impossibility of reading an article and drinking coffee at a small table.
I just wish it was filled with other content. So in addition to checking out the new Daily blog and becoming a pundit/journalist/fact-checker/whack-job for our information community, I recommend these other fine local sources as well:
Annarborisoverrated.com continues to ride its snarky one-trick pony to hilarity.
Arborblogs.com, which streams all types of blogs from the A2 area. The threads aren’t as deep as other blogs, but the front page seems to update every 30 seconds. Recommended for sheer breadth.
ArborUpdate.com, focusing on community news, with insightful threads and active participation. The curating of topics by the members keeps it more focused than other sites.
astrogibs.com/coolcities/, “The weblog of the city of Ann Arbor’s Mayor’s Cool Cities Task Force.” (Go here to figure out how not to do a blog.)
And those are just the As. Happy information hunting.
Denfeld can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.