Ohio University announced Friday a long-term investment plan for the future of its student media organizations by expanding the role of The Post’s current student media sales internship manager to serve all student media on campus.
Scott Titsworth, dean of the Scripps College of Communication, said Andrea Lewis’ role on campus will be secured in an exclusive interview with The Post on Friday. Lewis currently serves as The Post’s student media sales internship manager within the Scripps College.
This summer, OU’s dedication to student media was called into question by many, both in and outside the university space. On June 17, The Athens NEWS reported the funding for the student media sales internship manager position had been cut and, if funding was not secured within the year, the position would no longer exist. The position costs the university about $45,000 a year, according to The Post’s 2019-20 Salary Guide.
Lewis will transition from student media sales internship manager to director of student media at OU. She will be tasked with developing, maintaining and serving all student media organizations on campus beyond The Post. Lewis’ salary will not immediately change as a result of the transition.
Lewis’ position allows the student journalists working at The Post to focus on creating and publishing content without having to work on the business and financial side of the publication. The Post and the implications of cutting that position made national headlines in July after The Athens NEWS’ story broke.
“There's a common need for raising revenue through advertising and other types of support. There's a common need for navigating university bureaucracy to do things like purchase equipment and pay students,” Titsworth told The Post. “I have the utmost confidence that she's not only going to be able to do that well, but that through her leadership, we will be able to elevate how we view student media at Ohio University.”
WOUB Public Media, the Scripps College, the Division of Advancement and university leadership have all partnered to provide financial support for Lewis’ position until at least 2027. The Scripps College will be solely responsible for funding the position after that.
“The speed with which the university and the dean of the College of Communication found a solution to address this position really says a lot about how they value student media and our journalism program on campus and making sure that those students can focus on being good journalists and not worry about the processes in the background,” Lewis said.
Titsworth also shared plans to create two advisory boards in partnership with Lewis. The first is tentatively called the “student media advisory group” and will be composed of OU alumni and industry professionals. The second group — the student media leadership council — will feature the leaders of all student media organizations on campus. Titsworth said he hopes that group will allow student media leaders to collaborate in a positive way.
The groups have not yet been formed but will be established over the course of the school year, Titsworth said.
In addition to the advisory groups, Titsworth is exploring the possibility of practicum credit for students who work in media organizations at OU. Currently, the speech and debate team receives practicum credit, giving OU a model to apply to student media.
Titsworth also said he is evaluating spaces that were not used due to the COVID-19 pandemic and how they can be used in the future. Those spaces may be used as student media centers for publications that do not have a newsroom or central location.
“The idea of having space for student organizations is one of the priority items on that list,” Titsworth said. “If we can find a space that we don't need to have, that would be a really good alternative to using it that would have an impact for students.”
OU also announced Friday a gift of $100,000 given to The Post by The Richard Salomon Family Foundation. The money was used to create The Laura Landro Salomon Fund to provide support for students who work at The Post.
Laura Landro Salomon is a 1976 OU grad with a bachelor’s in journalism. Salomon worked as a copy editor, staff reporter and editor of the features section at The Post while at OU. After graduating, Salomon spent 35 years working as a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal.
“The Post and other similar organizations provide invaluable real-world experience to students across a multitude of disciplines at Ohio University,” OU President Hugh Sherman said in a university news release. “We are grateful to The Richard Salomon Family Foundation for recognizing the importance of independent student journalism, and we are committed to expanding the opportunities for student media organizations at OHIO.”
Lewis said the money will give the over 120 students who work at The Post the opportunity to expand technologically and to explore the bounds of journalism while a sales force raises extra money to cover its operations.
“It can be used for items like supporting student pay, promoting and facilitating the purchase of necessary technology and other equipment,” Titsworth said.
Titsworth said all campus student media will now act as if they are a professional or private media organization within OU. However, he said there is a defined line in which the university will not attempt to control or censor content, leaving the editorially independent media outlets' practices intact.
“I think there's tremendous potential for some appropriate interactions with our student media on campus, so they can all elevate themselves and have access to a sales team to bring money into their organizations and allow them to do bigger things,” Lewis said. “I'm very excited about what that potential means.”