Journalism majors at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, are protesting the decision last fall by President William LaForge to eliminate funding for the print edition of the student newspaper and the elimination of the journalism major and minor from the curriculum.
The two reasons cited were the need to help close a $1 million budget deficit and the need to effect a “digital transition” for the newspaper, The Statement.
Patricia Roberts, the tenured journalism professor, would see her $65,000 salary line erased within two years. There are approximately 20 journalism majors currently enrolled. The freshmen and sophomores have been directed to select a new major. The juniors and seniors will be allowed to complete their degrees.
Roberts explained that the printing budget is only about $10,000 per year, much of which is offset by advertising. Some of the advertising revenue flows directly into the university general fund, she said.
The Southeast Journalism Conference, composed of about 40 schools in seven states, sent LaForge a letter urging him to reverse his decision, citing the importance of a student newspaper to university life. The letter also argues that there will be no one to train the students how to effect a “digital transition” if the journalism major and minor are eliminated and the sole journalism professor is removed from the faculty.
LaForge, himself a DSU alumnus, is an attorney, not an academic.