Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Send the Hustler To San Jose

On VSLNation's twitter feed last night, I saw the following tweet: "@hustlernews: No San Jose for the Hustler staffers, unfortunately. If Vandy advances to Salt Lake City, we are 98% a go, though."

One of my biggest regrets in college was not writing for the Hustler (as clearly indicated by my attempts to be a sports reporter later in life). Being a writer for the school paper (particularly at a school without a journalism school) is a difficult, and often times thankless job. This game is an opportunity for the beat reporter to cover actual news that effects the school.

Talk about a microcosm for the decline of newspapers. There is news happening and budgetary constraints are preventing those who know the subject matter as well as anyone from actually covering it. I recognize that there are certain realities that exist, but I find it difficult to believe that there isn't money in the budget to send a reporter (or two) to cover what is likely to be the biggest news story on campus this year.

This post was written last night, but I thought it fairness to the Hustler and Vanderbilt Student Communications, Inc., I would give them an opportunity to respond before there were called out in quite so public a fashion. Unfortunately, my email to the addresses that appear below, as well as the Hustler's Editor-in-Cheif, was not responded to. Perhaps the readers of this site disagree with my outrage, but if not I would encourage the Vanderbilt Sports Line readership to email any of the following people and let them know you think the:

CHRIS CARROLL, Director of Student Media, Vanderbilt Student Communications, Inc.

JEFF A. BREAUX, Assistant Director of Student Media/Business, Vanderbilt Student Communications, Inc.

[Bobby climbs down from his soapbox - Exit, stage left]


Andrew VU '04 said...

Travel funds for a college reporter is a luxury most schools do not rank as highly as you do. Some schools (mostly through the coaches freeing up a seat) allow one sports reporter to ride on the bus/plane for road games, but very rarely for bowl games, tournaments, playoffs, etc. Most newspapers (correctly, I might add) make the assumption that the student can watch the game on television and report as accurately as they would had they seen it in person. Would you expect a university that has a student in the Olympics to fund a reporter's travel to Beijing? Vancouver? This is not hardly the travesty you make it out to be. Universities being forced to lay off most/all non-tenure track faculty and telling all instructors they'll only be hired back as low-pay adjunct professors (if at all) is a travesty. Universities which have to cut departments due to loss of funding (ex: the Linguistics and Comparative Literature undergraduate and graduate programs at LSU are both being cut entirely due to funding concerns) is a travesty. A school newspaper that pays its reporters $5 an article not being able to front travel funds for a reporter to cover something being televised is not a travesty. The university activities fee (ACFEE) fund The Hustler quite well, and you should retract all hate mail to Chris Carrol and the like. Jump off the soap box.

Peter Nygaard said...

As a sportswriter for The Hustler (and not in any way representative of the publication), I'd simply like to note that if The Hustler pays us $5 per article, I'm owed quite a bit of money.

As for the travesty that is paying money to send some snot-nosed Communications major to San Jose for a weekend when it could be used for other things (like the $70,000 plan for a VandyVan GPS system that was most recently on the Lori/Lee VSG Presidential ticket), as far as I understand it, the transportation provided would have been a seat on the flight that the team was on, which, as far as I had last heard, was vacant. So, as far as monetary concerns go, if the administration was really worried about losing money to put a butt in an empty seat, they could have had a bake sale. As it stands now, a regular flight (not a flight that, you know, contains the entirety of a basketball team) from BNA to San Jose is a shade under $350. Presumably, with the $5 I've made for each article I've written in my less-than-full year with The Hustler, I would have enough money by myself to spring for a ticket. At $5 per article, the longer-tenured members of staff would probably have been able to finance a trip for the entire basketball team. In actuality, though, we aren't paid a single dime for our articles (nor would I wish to be for a school paper), so I'm sure the administration has plenty of "salary money" they could try to loosen up for one of our guys. If the board chooses not to, so be it. But you say that travel funds for a reporter is a luxury that goes beyond what most schools would provide. Well, despite our shrinking funds for student media, Vanderbilt is not "most schools".

I'd just like to reiterate that the above was on my own behalf and does not represent the views of the paper (nor would I be the one who would be benefiting in any way from a decision to send someone), and while I hope that they can find the money to ship someone to San Jose, I understand if they are unable to do so. Go 'Dores.

Andrew VU '04 said...

It was $5 an article when I went there and wrote a few columns. Sorry if that's changed. I wrote for The Hustler (paid poorly), The Slant (should have been paid) and many various other publications. And yes, I know The Slant has been terrible for years. But you need to remember when we were good... killingn Chancellor Gee, etc.

Bobby O'Shea said...

I think it goes without saying that I, or anyone at VSL, would discourage in the strongest terms the sending of any "hate mail." if you disagree with the decision, these would be the people to voice your disaggrement with the decision.

Second, I think the Olympics analogy is flawed. Vanderbilt, as a university, does not compete in the olympics. The school does, on the other hand, compete in the NCAA tournament. Difficult decisions have to be made, and we can't always get all the things we want (for example, I would understand and support a decision not to send a reporter to cover a men's tennis or women's soccer team's appearance in the NCAAs). I would simply argue that this is different, and the student newspaper should have a reporter there to cover the game, as there is much perspective and insight that can be gained by the writer, and conveyed to the reader, by being in attendance.

Finally, while Andrew VU'04's point re: budgetary cuts at universities is true, it is inapplicable here. First and foremost, because the Hustlet and the rest of Vanderbilt's media outlets are paid for by VSC, Inc., not Vanderbilt. While a portion of student activities fees goes there, they are (rightly) operated as an entity separated from Vanderbilt. I would also note that, at present, to my knowledge, non of the drancoian cuts or measures have occurred at Vanderbilt. What I'm advocating for is not the "either/or" proposition that your response would suggest.

However, I wrote this expecting a conversation and a debate, and I hope that continues. Whatever the subject, VSL is at it's best when it's not a echo-chamber.

Thanks for reading