Four days a week, the Daily Titan newspaper is printed and distributed throughout CSUF. Two thousand papers — and it used to be even more — are placed in racks and orange bins, from College Park to the campus dorms.
Unbeknownst to a largely commuter campus, student journalists make their way up to the 6th floor of College Park nearly everyday, covering issues that often go unnoticed by the campus community.
However, nothing is permanent. In the blink of an eye, print media publications have faced significant financial dilemmas. Most recently, OC Weekly was forced to shut down.
The Daily Titan is a vital news organization, not only for this campus but nationally as well, serving as one of only a handful of papers that prints daily.
The Daily Titan faces similar financial struggles, facing its own murky future as its advertising sales continue to decline.
As we write some of the last words for this publication, it’s necessary to bring to light how this newspaper has forever shaped our perspective of journalism and served as an invaluable experience for future journalists.
Though many of us will be graduating, we do not want to leave without being heard. So let us be clear, we hope that this daily paper — in its print and digital form — lasts for many years to come.
The current communications department curriculum doesn’t prepare students for the journalism field. It is the independent journalism organizations at CSUF that have empowered student journalists in ways that many may not even realize.
The opinion section in a newspaper is the place where writers can strip their objectivity and bring light to the alternative sides of a story. These opinions spark conversations and elicit substantial change within the community.
Diane Ortiz, a former news editor for the Daily Titan, wrote a column about the internship requirement for the Communications Department. She highlighted the unjust reality that her work at the Daily Titan and Tusk Magazine would have been the equivalent of the work done at an internship, yet she didn’t receive credit for it.
The next semester, the Communications Department started accepting editorial positions at the Daily Titan as an internship opportunity for a communications degree.
Editorials, which are from the entire newsroom, speak on bigger issues and gives the public a glimpse into the heart and soul of the newsroom, including what we view as right and wrong based on the reporting that we do. Just like the editorial that is currently being read, problems and solutions are presented to the readers, and they can form their own opinions.
The nation was founded on an editorial: the Declaration of Independence. This document was an essay that voiced criticism of the political climate under British rule. Without that, our country would not have such a clear and concise foundation, one which united colonial Americans to form their own nation.
Sports reporting is a necessary part of a school that has Division I athletic programs, however the classes that are taken on campus do not prepare an aspiring journalist for this task. This is one of the tasks best learned by doing, along with every kind of reporting. Journalism is spoken through many theories and practices but it’s difficult to understand the breadth of reporting without practical experiences.
Daily Titan offers this to students. It can come off as a daunting task to people who want to be reporters, but you won’t truly know the craziness of journalism until you get your foot in the door with an organization, whether it be Daily Titan, Tusk Magazine, Titan Sports or Al Día.
These programs do their best to prepare students for their perspective careers but it is important to note that a large amount of students are not aware of these organizations working to get the stories out.
As a senior going into his last year, Daily Titan sports editor Arnulfo Gonzalez severely underestimated what it was like to be a journalist. It took about a month or so to get acclimated, but this did not mean that his best work was being put forward. He felt a bit of culture shock. Although, thanks to the amazing, driven peers at the Daily Titan he continued to grow. He can easily say that the Daily Titan has had a lasting impact, despite only two semesters on staff.
There were many events that were covered by the Daily Titan that was the hard work of the staff. Jordan Mendoza, editor-in-chief, spent a weekend working on the Big West Tournament for men’s basketball and was able to rub elbows with professional reporters.
This was not the only high profile event that Daily Titan covered that semester. The MLB hosted its inaugural MLB4 Tournament, of which CSUF was one of the four schools selected. Members of the Daily Titan were allowed five spots to go, but only the lodging costs were covered by the school.
Megan Garcia, a former sports editor and Gonzalez were two of the select few. Without school funding, these reporters had to make sacrifices and spend their own money in order to cover this event. While it was tedious to have to cover the costs themselves, it was an event that could not be missed.
Fullerton is not a school that has enough money to send reporters on all expenses paid trips to cover their teams, so students have to pick what is more important: advancing their career or spending their money on other things.
Sports reporting at CSUF deserves more respect, as they go to great lengths to report on their athletic programs. Sports reporters use the insight they have gained from regular sports coverage to form better stories, something that other journalists might not be able to do as well.
Going from required communication courses for journalism majors at CSUF to working at the Daily Titan or any other student media outlet on campus is like going from T-Ball to the Minor Leagues.
Classes should be geared towards contributing to the media outlets on campus. This would make up the most valuable experience the university could provide for journalists – give them real world experience that’s not included on an AP Stylebook quiz.
Under the core classes in the department, there is no instruction on how to cover city council meetings, elections and local crime. There is no instruction on how to analyze data important for stories regarding funding or finances. There is no instruction of how to cover war zones or trauma or issues of race and racism.
At the Daily Titan and other outlets, students are thrown into the action, actually going out in the field and producing stories that cover most of these issues under realistic deadlines.
Only at the Daily Titan, Al Día, Tusk Magazine, Titan TV, OC News and Titan Radio do students get that experience and knowledge that make up the true essence of journalism.
These students face realistic consequences if their stories are inaccurate because they are published online. Their reputation is on the line before their careers begin. The pressure, stress and toil these students face on their mental and physical health is real. They are journalists in every sense of the word, prioritizing the news as their grades go down the drain.
The Daily Titan and these outlets are important not just to prepare aspiring journalists, but for the impact it makes in the community.
If it wasn’t for the Daily Titan and other outlets, who would have covered the stabbing death on campus when it happened? The death occurred a week before the semester, and yet the entire news desk came to campus, even editors who were new to the paper, to make sure students knew this horrible tragedy occurred. The Opinion desk, Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor and other staffers were all ready to lend a hand.
No class offered at CSUF can prepare you to cover such a violent killing, yet these students did so because they knew it was their responsibility.
Who else would have told students that the alleged killer came to campus on the days following the crime; information the administration knew and shared with the academic senate but made absolutely no effort to communicate to students.
It was the Daily Titan who broke the story on Phi Sigma Kappa posting a flier with a racist watermark, an incident which led the Black Student Union to hold a town hall meeting to call out the racism that exists on this campus.
The Daily Titan holds the university and the CSU accountable and keeps students in the loop, something Associated Students Inc. fail to do.
Nothing is perfect, and neither is this newspaper. But the Daily Titan wants to improve and acknowledge the need for change. There’s a level of responsibility to writing about what’s happening in the community, and if errors are made, editors will own up to them and make improvements.
Student Journalism Deserves Recognition
Even though journalism still faces scrutiny by many readers, the words that journalists write still matter. Student journalists still matter. As Zack Johnston, a former Daily Titan editor-in-chief once wrote, “Our goal is to bring you the news that is most important, not the news that is most convenient.”
Student journalists are the unseen storytellers who dedicate their college years to understanding every story on campus, whether beautiful or dreadful. It’s student organizations that provide opportunities that allow student journalists to grow and value their right of freedom of the press.
News organizations on campus also deserve recognition for their efforts in shaping professional journalists. Photographers, designers, and creatives alike are able to dip their toes into the editorial world through their involvement with Tusk.
Look at Al Día and Jesus Ayala, a professor that actually has students go to Tijuana to report at the border. Thanks to the efforts of Ayala and the students, Al Día reporters, including Daily Titan Multimedia Editor, Dominic Torres, have won national awards for what they produced, and even became nominated for an Emmy in the 2020 College Television Awards — a first for CSUF.
Alongside these organizations, the Daily Titan serves as a pillar of communication on this campus. Even if their work goes unrecognized, Daily Titan reporters will continue to juggle life as a full-time student, have a second job and still be a part of the newspaper.
Why Print Still Matters
We hope that these words aren’t taken lightly, because this is about more than the future of one news publication.
Let these words inspire and motivate the fellow peers who we leave behind to work at this paper, as well as the future Daily Titan staff who have yet to write their first stories and see their name in the paper the next day. Their road ahead will always be difficult, but the search for the truth will always be within reach, as long as they are willing to fight for it.
Let this evoke a sense of action to all CSUF journalists. Stories are everywhere but you need to be willing to cover them. Journalism isn’t a passive profession. It’s an active one and journalists need to take it upon themselves to join these outlets and pursue transparency.
Let these words remind administrators and student leaders that every student education matters, but experience is a necessity in this industry. While other communication courses offer some insight into the profession, COMM 471 is one of the only classes that truly prepares print journalism students for the real world.
Do something that matters and actually see something change. Just like surgeons on the operating table, these editors are trying to keep physical change alive. Print and student organizations are the lifeline to our campus, and the campus and communications department must support it.
If funding and support for these publications continue to go down their current trajectory, the community will be nothing but a bystander to the death of campus publications— A death that will affect the community as a whole and eliminate a key player in the fight for transparency that must rage on. Donate to the Daily Titan.
With love and justice,
Sophia Acevedo, Hosam Elattar, Arnulfo Gonzalez, Alyssa Lopez, Bernadette Steele