Augustana student journalists protest students’ association, form independent newspaper

Updated May 27, 2016

Augustana students will have two newspapers to read next fall: the longstanding Dagligtale, established in the 1970s, and the Augustana Free Press, created just last month.

Following a decision by the Augustana Students’ Association (ASA) to terminate the current Dagligtale editors’ contracts for the upcoming year, 12 of the remaining 14 staff members resigned from the paper in protest at the end of April. Those who left created the Augustana Free Press, a media organization independent of the ASA and the Dagligtale that reports on the University of Alberta’s 1,000-person campus.

Connor Krammer, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Augustana Free Press and former Dagligtale editor, said the separation was prompted by repeated incidents in which the Dagligtale was requested to report on events organized by the ASA. According to him, if these events were not reported on satisfactorily, there would be “repercussions,” including the termination of editorial contracts at the end of the year

“We wanted to report on anything we felt we needed to report on without fearing the ASA,” Krammer said.

Stephanie Gruhlke, outgoing president of the ASA, denied the allegations and said the ASA has never “threatened (the Dagligtale) … to publish something.”

“There’s always been a distinct issue with the student government running the newspaper, so (the ASA) has always gone above and beyond to ensure (the Dagligtale) has their editorial freedom,” Gruhlke said.

In early 2013, the ASA prioritized the Dagligtale’s separation from the students’ association on its agenda. The newspaper is expected to separate completely from the ASA by 2018, but Gruhlke said rushing into independence too soon is unwise.

“Last year alone, (the Dagligtale) doubled their budget, and some people worried that when you’re increasing your budget that much in that short of time, it’s not sustainable,” she said. “That revenue isn’t a guarantee for every single editorial team … and based on their revenue this year, they wouldn’t survive sustainably into the future.”

According to Gruhlke, the only constraint the ASA placed on the Dagligtale in the past year was a requirement to share financial reports and legal contracts to ensure accountability and legitimacy. Disagreement arose when the Augustana Students’ Council requested access to these documents, which Gruhlke said the Dagligtale did not release until two months later.

Both Krammer and Gruhlke noted that Augustana may benefit from competition between the two newspapers, which can strengthen the quality of journalism. Krammer hopes the Dagligtale and the Augustana Free Press can coexist civilly next year, but a merger between the two is unlikely.

“I don’t have any ill will towards the Dag, and I hope it does well,” Krammer said. “The publication has been around for quite a while, so it would be a shame if it disappeared.”

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