JACKSON, Miss. – The state newspaper association is condemning a plan that will eliminate journalism courses at Delta State University and shutter the school’s 83-year-old student newspaper.
In a cover letter to DSU President William LaForge dated April 13, Mississippi Press Association President Joel McNeece said the cuts are a “terrible and disheartening precedent” to set for the school.
“Aside from depriving students, faculty and alumni with an important publication to record the history and activities of your school, the discontinuation of The Statement, an 83-year-old newspaper, in the collective opinion of this Board fundamentally inhibits First Amendment rights of everyone associated with your fine institution,” wrote McNeece, publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce.
MPA Executive Director Layne Bruce said the cutbacks and closure of The Delta Statement will inhibit free speech on the campus and eliminate an important medium for communication between students, faculty and alumni.
“There is no doubt that tough choices must be made in an era of tighter budgets,” said Bruce. “But the line item of printing the student newspaper is a drop in the bucket, and, frankly, there are options available through organizations such as ours that could help the publication build a stable financial foundation for the years ahead.”
Members of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees are expected to meet this week on proposed budget cuts at Delta State.
Founded in 1866, MPA is the trade association for 110-member publications and affiliated websites. A 2013 survey of state residents found newspapers to be the most trusted source of information in Mississippi, read by nearly 1.5 million people each week. The MPA Education Foundation provides scholarships and internships to students of journalism and grants to Mississippi institutions for journalism education.