Moody should better compensate Texas Student Media participants

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Photo Credit: Diane Sun | Daily Texan Staff

Ninety out of 290 Daily Texan staffers get paid for their contributions to the newspaper. This is less than a third of The Daily Texan staff, meaning roughly 200 staffers at Texas Student Media’s largest entity work without financial or academic compensation.

The efforts Texas Student Media students make in order to get that production or publication ready for release can easily go unnoticed. With Texas Student Media being largely affiliated with the Moody College of Communication, the staff should be presented with some of the incentives that Moody students receive. With this, Moody College of Communication should allow some full-time Texas Student Media staff members to petition for academic credit for the work they do, similar to how Moody students receive credit for internships.

Various student-run media entities make up the group — including KVRX 91.7, Texas Travesty, The Daily Texan, Texas Student Television, Burntx.com and the Cactus Yearbook. Content from these media properties has to meet efficient deadlines, must be carefully assembled and demands significant energy and effort from its staff members. More often than not, students involved with Texas Student Media have to devote a great deal of time and mental fortitude to complete their media assignments — occasionally more than they devote to normal academic assignments.

Hailey Wheeler, senior advertising major and editor-in-chief for the Cactus Yearbook, said her commitment to the University yearbook is equivalent to taking another class — and then some.

“There’s hundreds and hundreds of hours that have been put into (the two yearbooks) that I’ve worked on,” said Wheeler. “(Cactus Yearbook) is much more time consuming than the majority of classes that I’ve taken.”

As a weekly columnist for The Daily Texan, I can sympathize with Wheeler here. I spend a lot of hours on the work I do and find myself often pouring more heart into my columns, my art, than I do elsewhere. Often, additional sacrifices must be made in order to perfect the craft you care for. 

“I think that I had to definitely sacrifice other responsibilities to make sure the book was submitted on time and to make sure that everything was done seamlessly,” said Michelle Almonte, marketing sophomore and current design editor for the Cactus Yearbook. “If I had to consolidate everything, … I would definitely say that the Cactus was a project that I spent as much time on (as I would for a) class.”

Kathleen McElroy, director of the School of Journalism, said Moody students who acquire an internship for credit are issued an internship supervisor throughout the duration of that internship. These supervisors track and evaluate the roles and responsibilities the student intern takes on. Furthermore, this supervision is in place to ensure student interns receive the hands-on experience that qualifies them for academic credit.

“If (students) got credit for working in Texas Student Media, a lot of people who probably aren’t that interested in it would be working over there and shutting out the people who do want to work over there,” McElroy said.

McElroy makes a great point.

In response, Moody College of Communication should instead begin to issue credit hours to students who have at least four semesters of Texas Student Media experience or perhaps give credit only to the students in leadership positions such as managing editors and editors-in-chief. Another solution is for Moody College of Communication to consider allocating direct, on-site supervision to Texas Student Media entities as well in order to verify the amount of hard work and grit that the permanent staff members put in to their assignments.

Sure, students on the outside will take notice of the final products and publications from student media entities, however what must no longer go unnoticed is the work ethic of students. Moody College of Communication can shine a light on their efforts by compensating the permanent staff with academic credit.

West Jr. is a journalism sophomore from New Orleans, Louisiana.