Editorial: Palatinate deserves SU funding for print newspapers

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To support Palatinate and sign our open letter to get SU funding for printed newspapers, please complete this form.

The Durham Students’ Union has this morning informed us that there is ‘no budget for a print edition’ for Michaelmas term, and that Epiphany and Easter terms are not yet confirmed. We are asking for support from Durham students and journalists in overturning this decision. 

In normal times, Palatinate publishes free papers on a fortnightly basis, featuring scores of students’ hard work from writing, editorial, graphic design, photography and illustration.

Palatinate‘s print newspapers are a 72-year-old tradition that we cannot afford to lose. Having been founded in 1948, Palatinate has since printed newspapers on a regular basis, keeping students up to date with what is going on in their university.

Since lockdown began, Palatinate has continued to prove how vital it is to the student body. From a breaking news feed about Coronavirus back in March, to uncovering the plans for Unbound Education – which made national headlines – to providing clear and reliable information about how the University will operate this term, our journalism continues to serve a crucial function in holding the university to account. Student journalism is important, especially in a time of constant uncertainty.

On a practical level, Palatinate has been offering opportunities to aspiring journalists for 72 years, too. Broadcasters like Jeremy Vine, George Alagiah and Cristinia Nicolotti Squires, the co-founder of the BBC World Service TV News John Exelby, and former Editor of the Sunday Times Sir Harold Evans – all of them learned the ropes at Palatinate. Recent alumni have found work at national papers and earnt places on prestigious journalism courses at City, University of London and News Associates. Any student at Durham can write for Palatinate, so any student can see their work in print. Print journalism is a crucial skill, and the chance to learn about it at undergraduate level has, and always will be, invaluable. 

We are asking for support from Durham students and journalists in overturning this decision. 

We have thought carefully about how to produce and print papers safely in line with government guidance. National newspapers have continued to be printed, and picking up a paper in a college or the SU does not contribute to the spread of the virus. We have been working to resolve how we can use the software we need safely, including limiting the number of people in our office, and possibly working remotely from personal computers. We believe we can continue to function as a student society in a safe and responsible manner.

Palatinate has functioned well online for the last six months. Our viewing figures have been high, and we have served the student body as best we can. However, the decision to cut our newspapers for the rest of 2020, if not next year too, undermines our status as Durham’s official student newspaper. We offer informed coverage, and we will scrutinise and hold those in power to account. Please help us continue to do so.

Collage by Jack Taylor

One thought on “Editorial: Palatinate deserves SU funding for print newspapers

  • Why is DSU withholding funding to Palatinate? A quick look at the Report & Accounts of DSU to July 2019, at Companies House, shows a small surplus of £146k on a turnover of £2.6 million, healthy balance sheet footings of £630k and a cash flow increase on the previous year of £71k. They reflect a well run union.

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