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Letter to the Editor: Defunding 'The Post' is unacceptable

Since its inception in 2007, the Post Alumni Society has provided hundreds of Ohio University grads with an outlet to continue to support the publication they tirelessly worked for during their time in Athens.

We exist because we are passionate about paying it forward. We know how valuable that Post experience is. We want to see students have the same fruitful opportunities we had. It leads these students to win prestigious awards at OU, then graduate and enter successful careers, ultimately contributing BACK to their alma mater by donating their time, talent and treasure through our alumni society.

To put it bluntly, our alumni support is not only an asset to current Post students but a crucial aspect of OU’s reputation as a journalism powerhouse. And not only are our alumni excellent ambassadors for the Scripps experience, but we would do almost anything to help a fellow Postie — whether they are 18 or 85. 

This is why the past week has left so many Post alumni disappointed and angry.

Many of our alumni learned about the OU administration’s decision to defund The Post’s business manager position at the end of the upcoming school year, after The Athens NEWS published an article June 17. The position costs the university a mere $45,000 a year and is nearly immeasurable to Post staff AND Post alumni.

The feedback from our membership was instant and fierce: “This is unacceptable.”

The success of current and future Posties demonstrates that The Post is a worthy investment for the university’s focus on “experiential learning.”  The involvement of our alumni society alone gives students the networking opportunities to learn about careers in “the real world” that they don’t get in their journalism classes. 

But university support is needed to ensure they can continue their work on campus.

Our Post Alumni Society membership spans the globe. Our names can be found on mastheads and bylines of the top newspapers in the country. We run TV and radio stations. Our list of Postie Pulitzer winners is constantly growing and, every year, countless alumni change their communities in immeasurable ways through quality local journalism.

We are also lawyers, teachers, educators and leaders. We work in marketing, public relations, public service and so many other fields beyond journalism.

And although our paths are different, we are all connected through a simple truth: If you ask ANY of us about our time in college, we will tell you without hesitation, “My time at OU was defined by my time at The Post. My career was shaped directly by that experience.”

This is the reason hundreds of alumni have traveled to Athens to attend one of our annual spring reunions. Why our society was recognized by the university in 2019 with the Lindley Student Networking Award, acknowledging the many Post alumni who’ve donated their time to mentor current Posties and provided hours of workshops and professional development for those students. It’s the reason why our alumni raised more than $9,000 in 24 hours during the Ohio Giving Day 2021.

There is much to be said about all the ways the entire OU community benefits, and will continue to benefit, from having a strong, editorially independent student newspaper. That topic alone is enough for its own letter.

For now, we will simply say this: We have no intention of backing down when it comes to the long-term success — and, quite honestly at this point, the very existence — of The Post

We want to stay true to our society’s values and be part of the solution. We are ready, able and willing to participate in conversations, and our alumni have knowledge that we can share. We understand this is a complex situation, and we certainly don’t have all the answers, but we can sure as hell help find one.

What we DO know is that we stand behind the students of The Post and its current business manager, Andrea Lewis, completely. We ask the university to consider approving the Experiential Learning grant submitted by Lewis this spring while continuing discussions about her position's long-term sustainability.

We want nothing more than to use our alumni network to continue supporting OU students in taking The Post’s journalism to the next level, rather than reassuring them that we will continue to fight for its survival. 

-The members of The Post Alumni Society’s Board of Directors

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