Poster printing

Breaking: President Banks asks the battalion to stop printing | News

Editor’s note: In an email to the Battalion, President Banks informed management that print editions would be permitted until the spring semester of 2022, after which she said publication would be digital only.

On Thursday, February 10, Dean of Students Anne Reber and Acting Director of Student Life Stefanie Baker approached the battalion’s student leadership to inform the organization that the university’s president, Mr. Katherine Banks, is demanding that the 129-year-old student publication ceases printing weekly editions, effective immediately.

With a physical copy of the 132-page MGT report in hand, Reber said Banks is considering moving the publication exclusively online as she hopes to move the battalion under a new Journalism Department, details of which have not yet been disclosed. However, no concrete answer was provided to the Battalion leaders during the meeting as to why the print shutdown was taking place.

The first time Banks was able to respond to comments was Friday morning, during which she told student leaders that moving away from print production will allow the battalion to focus its efforts on digital and multimedia.

“I think it’s a new era for The Battalion,” Banks said. “It will not be printed.”

When asked why battalion leadership or other journalism instructors or professionals were not included in the decision-making process, Banks replied that it was purely “a decision made by the management of the university”.

“It was a decision that was made,” Banks said. “[General Joe Ramirez] and I’ve been talking about it for a few weeks now and I think it’s time to move on.

Reber said Thursday the immediate move had been in the works for two weeks. Kelly Brown, associate vice president of marketing and communications for A&M, said in Friday’s meeting with Banks that it was a revision of a decision from three years ago, when The Battalion initially transitioned to student organization status. However, the battalion’s academic advisor and student leaders were not informed of this decision until Thursday, February 10.

Despite the administration’s overreach, Banks said collaboration will continue between university leadership and the battalion in the future.

Banks also said she wanted to see the battalion offices move into the new School of Performing and Visual Arts Performing Arts Building with KAMU under one roof to foster a digital transformation.

Although The Battalion has been published online since 1997, the print version has existed in monthly, weekly or daily form since 1893, the only exception being a brief period during World War I. the story of The Battalion and Texas A&M have been deeply connected since the early days of the university, as publishing forms a central part of the A&M Archives through the Cushing Memorial Library. This print edition not only hosted daily content, such as news and sports, but also celebrated A&M traditions by honoring graduations, Ring Days, Silver Taps and Muster.

Banks said The Battalion would still be “allowed” to publish magazines and special editions of Maroon Life in conjunction with journalism classes. It has not been specified how the university intends to enforce the shutdown of print publications.

“Consider the positives. We’re not in charge here, the public is in charge,” Banks said.

In its current form, the printed editions of the Battalion – and its staff – are financed exclusively by advertisements. To make up for the loss of funds if print editions stop, Reber and Baker said Thursday that the university would ensure that battalion personnel are supplemented with what they would have earned in salaries during the remainder of the spring semester. , but were unclear about past plans in May. . The banks confirmed this statement on Friday.

However, Douglas Pils, who is also The Battalion’s publicity supervisor, said the publication has already finalized $61,000 in advertising deals for the remainder of the semester. One such deal is in collaboration with University of Texas Student Media: a $4,000 Amazon print ad. UT student media director Gerald Johnson said another deal for a $5,000 print ad with a major tech company is nearly finalized, but may need to be reconsidered with that.

The request to stop printing comes from Banks – not from The Battalion readership. Banks said that as someone who is not a journalist, she doesn’t know why print journalism matters.

“Generation Z and Generation Y mainly receive their news [digitally]and that’s the market, here in College Station, certainly [among] students,” Banks said. “I understand why [other university leadership] felt like you had to have at least one experience… to understand print media. I’m not a journalism professor, I don’t understand exactly why [print media] is important for the field.

Reber pointed out to student leaders on Thursday that the world itself is moving more toward digital-only news, as opposed to print, and that aligns with Banks’ digital preferences, not The Battalion’s preferences.

When asked if the university leadership’s decision was made in response to specific content or advertisements published in The Battalion, Banks replied, “Absolutely not.”

“I believe in freedom of the press,” Banks said. “That’s why I decided, and we decided to invest in journalism on this campus. We need honest and professional journalists to allow the country to continue to be a free and democratic society.

The administration’s desire to see The Battalion move to online-only production and under the formal academic direction of a journalism department is informed by a recently enacted university policy.

Rule 09.02., adopted on October 7, 2021, states: “[Official messaging of members], such as signage, social media posts, press releases, media interviews, and website postings, must be approved in accordance with any rules or procedures applicable to members. Each Managing Director Member will adopt the rules and/or procedures necessary to implement these rules and may delegate the necessary approval authority to facilitate efficient operations.

In The Battalion’s 129-year history, the university has never had control over the content published in The Battalion. The final word on all content published digitally and in print has always been with the editor. Banks said Friday that the university does not intend to control the content published in The Battalion.

On Thursday, Reber told student leaders at the Battalion they had to choose whether to remain a student organization or transition under the new Department of Journalism, details of which are still unclear, as a purely digital publication. Management was asked to make this decision by the end of the following day.

If The Battalion denies the request and remains a student organization, it would be stripped of all relevant resources, including its Memorial Student Center basement office space and its faculty advisor, Student Media CEO Douglas Pils – long-time advisor and mentor.

After speaking with Banks, it is unclear at this time whether student leadership has the option of choosing to remain a student organization or go along with the administration’s request. Banks said The Battalion is licensed to print at least one final edition, but nothing more.

Anyway, The Battalion will be in print on Thursday, February 17.

Editor’s note: The article has been updated to reflect the corrections.