(Nijmegen) – Some say a trend has begun that forces university magazines and newspapers to appear less frequently and/or move its operations to the internet. In April of last year the ‘Ublad’ magazine and its online brother ‘Ublad Online’ shut down to make place for the Digital University Magazine (Digitaal Universiteitsblad; DUB). Apparently the University of Utrecht shut down operations due to cutbacks. For now, the Erasmus Magazine need not worry after assurance by the Board of the Erasmus University.
At the end of 2010, Radboud University (Nijmegen) decided to print its VOX newspaper 12 times a year, instead of the usual 24 times. Radboud’s board stated that due to bad financial health the newspaper will appear less frequently as of January 2011. The university council and student unions protested by saying the independence of the newspaper is being threatened and that censorship would be imposed. The university’s board tried to comfort those parties in stating the newspaper would remain totally independent, without censorship – but this did not change any opinions. The Student Council issued an online petition to protest the plans and collected about 1000 signatures. Last December the board took the final decision to reduce the print frequency.
Now another university newspaper is being threatened: Eindhoven’s university paper ‘Cursor’. Currently the paper is printed weekly and plans are to change that to biweekly or even monthly. Cursor’s website on the other hand, is said to be reinforced to cover the ‘breaking’ and current news. With this shift, the university wants to use the paper for public relations and charisma towards the whole country.
Journalists will directly collaborate with the university’s press officers and spokesmen, which is causing lots of controversy because readers are afraid the paper will lose its independence. Additionally, the collaboration and new strategy could lead to imposed self-censorship as responsibilities and interests will get intertwined. Critics say this will cause certain news facts not to be reported, only to increase gossip and an inaccurate internal provision of information.
No decision has been made by the university board yet, because the Cursor’s editors are still working on budgets for the paper to appear biweekly in one scenario, and monthly in the other. Using that information, the board will make a final decision, which is expected at the beginning of July.