Editorial: Future of paper hinges on regents’ vote

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Every week, a new edition of The Scarlet & Gray Free Press comes out on newsstands across campus.

The staff works tirelessly throughout the week to make sure we tell the stories of what is happening around campus, and serve as the voice and only independent news source of the campus.

But among the regular stress our staff endures, being full-time students, worrying about filling space in the paper, internships, full-time jobs and other responsibilities, there is another daunting hurdle the current staff is facing: funding.

This hurdle has a direct impact on the future of this paper.

The future of The Scarlet & Gray Free Press is in question given our current financial situation. But we have a solution.

On Friday, at the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents meeting, they will be discussing a proposal of a 20-cent-per-credit-hour fee for UNLV’s student body of over 30,000 students that will directly fund The Scarlet & Gray Free Press.

If the fee passes, the paper will be saved with a stable funding source. We can continue to operate as usual and look towards expanding opportunities at the paper for the next crop of aspiring journalists at UNLV.

We know. It’s a lot to ask for. Asking students to support a student-imposed fee that will impact their tuition.

But what we’re asking for isn’t a lot. For a student who takes 15 credits, this fee will only be an extra $3 on their tuition. It won’t be higher than the cost of a cup of coffee each semester, which is far less than many of the fees for things that students don’t even know about.

And the money is going directly to the student newspaper, to use every cent of it towards making the paper better.

To create the best environment for the next generation of reporters to thrive in. To have the resources to cover everything that is happening on this vast campus thoroughly.

And, most importantly, to create a product – our weekly printed edition and extensive digital coverage online – that the UNLV community will be proud of. A product that the UNLV community can rely on because it is sustainable. 

But that sustainability only happens if this fee passes.

Printing since 1955 

Two years before UNLV held its first classes, a student newspaper called The Rebel Yell was already printing stories for the community to read. 

On April 20, 1955, a front page story of the newspaper was the announcement of its debut as the student newspaper of Southern Nevada. The Rebel Yell started with four members in the editorial staff, three advisors, a business manager and an assistant business manager. 

“This week marks another ‘first’ for Nevada Southern. It comes in the form of the recently organized school newspaper, The Rebel Yell,” the article of the first edition stated. “We feel that The Rebel Yell is an appropriate name for the paper because Nevada Southern students are often called Rebels.” 

At the time, the university was known as Nevada Southern University after the Nevada Board of Regents acquired the land of an 80-acre parcel where the campus still stands today on Maryland Parkway. 

“The paper stands to serve the students and will try to fulfill every need. Its pages will have news of all types–varying from feature articles to campus happenings,” the article stated. “The Rebel Yell depends upon you, the students, for its news, so cooperate and support your newspaper.”

Around campus, the newspaper was well read up until 2014 where operations nearly stopped.

A hit piece was written about former members of CSUN. The clash between the student government and the newspaper left the paper’s funding dangling over its head. 

In 2016, the paper’s name was changed to The Scarlet & Gray and the newspaper was later funded by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. 

If it wasn’t for the Review-Journal, there would be no student newspaper today. 

But in the past five years, the contributions were slowly diminishing to where The Scarlet & Gray have to support themselves with an antiquated budget.  

The paper’s impact on campus

Multiple professors for UNLV’s Greenspun School of Journalism support the paper, citing that The Scarlet & Gray has a positive effect on their students. 

“It’s had a great impact,” said Charles Zobell, lecturer for the school of journalism and member of The Scarlet & Gray advisory board. “In fact, it’s had the greatest impact I’ve seen.”

Zobell highlighted that The Scarlet & Gray improves the writing and reporting skills of the students who work within the publication, both students of journalism and other majors. 

One major way that these students improve their skills here comes through the practice, according to Zobell. He said that he’s seen students of his join the paper and their work improved after. 

“Just very simply, practice makes you better,” said Zobell. “I can look at some of the students who were writing for the paper this semester, who I had in this class. And I could compare a story that they submitted for my class with what they’re publishing today. In the vast majority of the cases they are writing better.”

Students also can improve their work by learning from the edits and criticisms from editors and the paper’s professional advisor, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s assistant business editor, Rick Velotta.  

“My experience so far has been quite a learning one,” said staff writer Brittany Sharp.

This is Sharp’s first semester writing for The Scarlet & Gray, though she has experience working outside of the news medium. 

Sharp said that what really drew her into joining the paper at first was how friendly the editor she first spoke to, arts and entertainment editor Madeline Derivet, was when Sharp first started at the paper. 

Now Sharp said that she’s using her work at the paper to expand her skills as a writer.

“As an author, I’m choosing to take my experience all around to learn how to be better, all around,” said Sharp. 

Aside from improving the student’s skills, Zobell also said that working for The Scarlet & Gray can help its staff secure professional internships as well. These internships then can lead to job opportunities in the journalism field. 

“If you’ve done some practical work already at The Scarlet & Gray,” said Zobell, “when you submit an application, with your resume and your cover letter, you also can submit work samples that you’ve published in The Scarlet & Gray.” 

Zobell, who previously worked at the Review-Journal, pointed out that this process is true at his old publication. He said that he’s seen multiple writers for The Scarlet & Gray go on to work at the Review-Journal after graduation. 

The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents will meet to decide whether to pass our proposed fee on Friday at 12:40 p.m. in the Student Union here at UNLV. We ask for your support for the future of UNLV’s newspaper. 

Supporters for The Scarlet & Gray Fee: 

CSUN Student Government

Graduate & Professional Student Association

Office of Student Affairs 

UNLV President Keith Whitfield 

UNLV Executive Vice President and Provost Chris Heavy

Dean of Greenspun College of Urban Affairs Kevin Stoker

Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Rogers

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