By Ben Peters
Athens NEWS Associate Editor
Ohio University President Hugh Sherman has promised that his administration will find a way to protect student newspaper The Post, whose sole full-time position — which generates the publication’s revenue — is in jeopardy of termination.
In a June 24 statement, Sherman provided no specifics on how he plans to fund the $45,000 salary of the organization’s business manager, Andrea Lewis, nor did he identify alternative solutions to finance the publication.
Lewis’ salary is supported by a grant that is expected to discontinue at the end of June 2022; the university has declined to renew the grant indefinitely, leaving the student organization to fund the position themselves. Without Lewis working full-time to sell advertisements, the paper’s editorial operations could be devastated.
“Ultimately, we will find a way to safeguard the continued success of The Post while protecting its editorial independence from the institution,” Sherman said. “Students expect and deserve the kind of experiential education provided by publications like The Post, and we will work collaboratively to design a solution that ensures we meet that expectation.”
The president’s statement arrived in the wake of more than a week of blowback from students, community members, faculty and high-profile alumni of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and The Post who made known in editorials and on social media their frustration with the university’s treatment of the more than 100-year-old newspaper that’s helped launch numerous careers. Some even declined donation requests from the journalism school.
Alumni of the publication, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, underscored that the experience they gained working at The Post was invaluable in their successful careers, and that to strip it of resources would be detrimental to OU’s elite journalism school’s reputation.
“The Post is an essential component of the unmatched experience we deliver to students interested in pursuing a career in journalism,” Scripps College Dean Scott Titsworth said in a statement. “We will ensure it not only continues to operate but to evolve and thrive.”
At a virtual journalism school town hall meeting on the evening of June 24, attended by nearly 50 alumni, Lewis reiterated that “campus partners” requested a meeting with her to help identify funding solutions for her salary.
She and journalism school Director Eddith Dashiell were both quite encouraged that the administration appeared to be taking seriously the concerns of the publication and its network.
“You can’t have a strong school of journalism without The Post,” Dashiell said. “To me it’s just a given that we know how beneficial The Post has been for the last hundred years to help students get the experiential learning they need to get that good internship, to get that first good job, to get the second good job, to have a great career, to earn those Pulitzers.”