Influential Student Newspapers

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Student newspapers have long played an important part in the campus experience and the educational development of young journalists, aspiring writers, and students everywhere who are just plugging into current events for the first time. Student-run campus newspapers have served as a platform for independent thought, free speech, and investigative rigor. But with changes in technology and the world of news, the role and face of the student newspaper are also changing. As we consider some of the most influential student newspapers in the U.S., it’s important to first take a look at the broader outlook for student newspapers today.

The Changing Face of the Student Paper

Is the demise of independent, student-run newspapers imminent? Well, the answer is complicated. Obviously the face of news is changing. The speed at which the news must be delivered in our gotta have it right now society is astounding. Anyone with a cell phone can break a story, get it out on social media, and transmit it around the world in a matter of seconds. Gone are the days when a major story could wait until Thursday when the print edition of a newspaper was expected to hit newsstands. By then, it’s old news.

As a result, many newspapers have added a digital component to their newspaper, maintaining a website and a social media presence in order to deliver the news to readers almost instantly. According to, 50% of Americans in the 18–29 age bracket are getting their news online, compared to only 5% who get it via print media. Even TV is a distant second at 27%.

It’s not just newspapers that have made this realization. Companies that formerly relied on revenue from ads in those very papers recognize that they must change the way they do business as well. They are reducing their ad contracts with newspapers, or abandoning print advertising altogether. According to Mark J. Perry of the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank, print advertising has fallen more than 75% since it peaked at $67 billion in 2000.

Nowhere is this reduction of print advertising being felt more sharply than at independent, student-run newspapers. Traditionally, ad contracts have been the sole source of revenue for many student-run newspapers. Often, the papers are offered to the student body for free, so ads are crucial to their survival. With the reduction or removal of ad contracts, newspapers are forced to reduce their budgets or pass the costs on to students.

This shift in readership and reduction of print advertising have forced many student-run newspapers to significantly reduce their print schedules, going from five days per week to just one or two. Some papers have even made the difficult decision to forego printing altogether, choosing rather to deliver their news solely online.

A number of student newspapers have also begun charging a subscription fee to their readers. The fees are often low, $1 or $2 per semester, but even that small amount can be a bitter pill to swallow for many students who are constantly bombarded with student fees.

A more drastic alternative for some student-run newspapers is to appeal to the school administration for funding, although this is admittedly not a popular choice among formerly independent papers. Obviously, as soon as a paper accepts funds from the school, its independence is lost and it becomes very difficult to remain completely unbiased in its reporting.

A look back through history shows that although many college newspapers made their start with funding provided through their school affiliations, university politics and public relations concerns usually forced the entities to break economic ties. Overwhelmingly, when newspapers rely on universities for funding, they lose the capacity for objectivity about events taking place on their own campuses. Newsrooms desperately want to provide unbiased reporting to the students and communities they represent, wishing to remain unencumbered by school administration and school politics.

This may paint a rather bleak picture of the state of independent student-run newspapers, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Take the case of The Daily Campus, the student-run newspaper of Southern Methodist University. Upon hearing that The Daily Campus had made the decision to re-affiliate itself with the university and move to online news delivery only, Melissa Gomez, former editor of The Alligator (University of Florida), decided to take action.

Gomez worried for the fate of all student-run newspapers and, on April 25, 2018, began the #SaveStudentNewsrooms campaign. On that day, more than 100 student-run newspapers flooded social media to make others aware of the struggles that independent papers are facing. In an interview with CNN, Gomez said,

The whole idea behind the call to action day was to start a conversation about the state of student media in the U.S. … student newsrooms don’t look like they did 20 years ago. Some of them have folded. Some of them are struggling to survive the next month. Others don’t really have a secured future. And we want people to be aware of that.

Why Student Newspapers Matter

Raising people’s awareness of the struggles faced by student newsrooms is important for many reasons. Among them, student newspapers are often proving grounds for people who will make journalism their career — many papers can boast that former reporters have earned Pulitzer Prizes during their career while making significant contributions in their field. Association with a student newspaper can also be a fast track into politics. Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy both worked on their student papers.

Supporting student-run newspapers is especially important in small communities, where the campus daily may be the only source of print news for an entire local population. Independent newspapers are also freer to report on stories that larger regional or national papers ignore, or are not free to report on because of political bias, limited funding, or lack of interest.

In the spirit of supporting the important work done by independent student-run newspapers, The Quad would like to celebrate some of the most influential among them. A number of factors figured into our list of influential student-run newspapers, including:

These newspapers have made a difference on their campus, in their state or local government, and in some cases, even to our nation. In short, they’re impacting our culture and society in a time when journalism is morphing and changing at a brisk clip. We have chosen 35 influential newspapers. We do realize that we have probably missed a few, so if you feel that your school’s newspaper should have been included, use the comments section below to let us know why you deserved to make the list. The entries below are not ranked against one another, but are instead presented in alphabetical order.

 NOTE:   As you will read below, many of the newspapers claim to be the oldest college newspaper. At times, the discrepancy comes from the chosen definition of oldest. Some newspapers have been continuously published longer than others, meaning there has never been a break in their publishing schedule — like reducing their print schedule during World War II for example. Some have been printed daily for a longer period of time than others. Some have been independent longer than others. Whatever their claim, I have included it in this article, without question, even if it directly contradicts the claim of another school.

Influential Student-Run Newspapers

The Alligator, University of Florida


The Alligator was founded in 1906 and is the largest student-run newspaper in the U.S., with a print circulation of 35,000. The paper prints on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the fall and spring semesters, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer. The Alligator became independent in late 1971, after a tumultuous split between student editors and the university.

The Badger Herald, University of Wisconsin, Madison


The Badger Herald claims to be the nation’s largest fully independent student newspaper. The paper is published Monday through Friday during the regular academic year and once during the summer. The staff for the newspaper is a team of nearly 100 students.

The Brown Daily Herald, Brown University


The Brown Daily Herald was founded in 1866, making it the second-oldest newspaper in the nation. It became a daily in 1891 and continues to print Monday through Friday during the school year, with a few special editions during the year, including for orientation, commencement, and summer. Several alumni have won Pulitzer Prizes. Today, The Brown Daily Herald has a volunteer staff of 250 students.

The Chronicle, Duke University


The Chronicle actually predates Duke University. It was founded at Trinity College, Duke’s predecessor, in 1905. The paper became independent in 1993. Two years later, The Chronicle launched a website, which has a current readership of 350,000 per month. The paper is published Monday through Thursday.

The Columbia Daily Spectator, Columbia University


The Columbia Daily Spectator was founded in 1877 and claims to be the second-oldest student-run daily paper in the nation (after The Harvard Crimson). The paper is published online Monday through Friday and a print edition is published each Thursday. Jack Kerouac and Langston Hughes are alumni of the paper.

The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell University


Founded in 1880, The Cornell Daily Sun claims to be the oldest continuously independent college daily in the nation. Its print edition is available Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. The paper has nine Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni.

The Daily, University of Washington


The Daily was founded in 1891. The paper prints 10,000 copies each Monday and Thursday and produces an online edition on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the regular academic year (once per week during the summer). It also publishes a number of special editions during the year, including The Game Daily before each home football game. The Daily has won numerous journalism awards and several alumni of the paper have won Pulitzer Prizes.

The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University


The Daily Athenaeum began as a literary magazine in 1887 and moved to a newspaper format in the 1920s. It became a daily 1933. In 1970, The Daily Athenaeum separated from the school of journalism and became independent. Today, it is printed on Mondays and Thursdays, with a print circulation of 5,000 copies.

The Daily Athenaeum won the Associated Collegiate Press’s Pacemaker Award in 2016 for best newspaper.

The Daily Californian, University of California, Berkeley


The Daily Californian was founded in 1871, making it one of the oldest student-run newspapers on the West Coast. It is published Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays during the school year and once weekly during the summer. The Daily Californian Alumni Association is one of the largest and most-active college newspaper alumni associations in the nation. They hold regular reunions and boast members who are employed by The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and People Magazine, to name just a few.

The Daily Collegian, Pennsylvania State University


The Daily Collegian was first published as the Free Lance in April of 1887. Since then, the paper has made many changes to its print schedule, its name, and its format, but it has remained an independent paper for more than a century. It is published Monday through Friday while classes are in session. The P.S., a tabloid insert covering Penn State’s art and music scene, is distributed on Thursdays along with the paper.

The Daily Gamecock, University of South Carolina


The Daily Gamecock printed its first edition in 1908. The newspaper has a circulation of 5,000 and is printed on Mondays during the fall and spring semesters, and online during the summer. The Daily Gamecock has a staff of over 50 paid and volunteer positions, and enjoys a Twitter following of over 47,000 readers.

The Daily Mississippian, University of Mississippi


The Daily Mississippian, or DM as University of Mississippi students fondly refer to the newspaper, is one of the largest student-run publications in the nation, with a print circulation of 12,000, distributed Monday through Friday during the fall and spring semesters, and twice weekly during the summer. In 1962, Ole Miss was famously embroiled in a civil rights debate over the enrollment of an African-American student named James Meredith. Sidna Brower, the paper’s editor at the time, penned a controversial editorial about the issue and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

The Daily Iowan, University of Iowa


The Daily Iowan has a print circulation of 8,500 and is published Monday through Friday during the school year. The paper was founded in 1868 and all copies back to the first edition are available through an online archive maintained by the university.

The Daily Orange, Syracuse University


The Daily Orange was founded in 1903 and became independent in 1971. The paper has a print a circulation of 6,000 copies, printed on Monday through Thursday, and on Fridays before home football games and some home basketball games. It has a readership of 30,000 and an online circulation of 500,000. The Princeton Review named The Daily Orange as #2 Best College Newspaper.

The Daily Pennsylvanian, University of Pennsylvania


The Daily Pennsylvanian, founded in 1885, is currently published twice weekly during the regular school year. It was awarded the Associated Collegiate Press’s Pacemaker Award in 2017. The Daily Pennsylvanian employs more than 250 students each year.

The Daily Princetonian, Princeton University


The Daily Princetonian (universally known as The Prince) was founded in 1876 as a biweekly publication and became a daily in 1892, making it the second-oldest daily college newspaper. It has a print circulation of 2,000 copies daily and receives about 2,500 hits per day on the website. The Prince has a staff of nearly 200 undergraduate students, and multiple alumni of the paper have won Pulitzer Prizes.

The Daily Tar Heel, University of North Carolina


The Daily Tar Heel has a circulation of 10,000 copies, distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the academic school year. Notable past writers for The Daily Tar Heel include Thomas Wolfe and Charles Kuralt. The paper has also received numerous awards, including Associated Collegiate Press Pacemakers and SPJ Mark of Excellence awards.

The Daily Texan, University of Texas at Austin


The Daily Texan has a print circulation of around 30,000 copies, making it one of the largest student-run newspapers in the United States. It also holds the distinction of being one of the oldest papers in the South. The Daily Texan has won more awards than any college newspaper in America.

The Dartmouth, Dartmouth College


The Dartmouth claims to be the nation’s oldest college newspaper, founded in 1799. The paper is published Monday through Friday from September to June, and once weekly during the summer. Special editions are also published throughout the year. The Dartmouth created the Vox Clamantis Fund in 1999. This fund provides stipends for journalism student who have gotten unpaid internships. It has also funded the Editor-in-Residence program, which brings experienced journalists to the university to work alongside student editors.

The Diamondback, University of Maryland College Park


The Diamondback has been published since 1910 and has a print circulation of 8,000, distributed at 60 locations across campus and in the community. The online version of the paper receives more than three million page views per year.

The Exponent, Purdue University


The Exponent was founded in 1889. It distributes 11,000 copies twice weekly during the academic school year, and 6,000 copies during the summer. In 1989, entirely with its own funds, The Exponent began construction of a $1.9 million building to house its operations, the first time a student-run newspaper had done so. The building was sold in 2017 to the United Lutheran Church, but the paper still occupies the second floor.

The Harvard Crimson, Harvard University


The Harvard Crimson was founded in 1873 and is one of the only college newspapers to own its own printing press. The Harvard Crimson is published Monday through Friday. The paper boasts two alumni you may have heard of before: Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

The Hilltop, Howard University


The Hilltop was founded by the future author Zora Neale Hurston and social scientist Louis Eugene King in 1924. The Princeton Review has twice ranked The Hilltop as the Best Collegiate Newspaper in the Nation. The paper is also the only daily news publication in the United States run by African Americans. It has a print circulation of 7,000 copies.

The Iowa State Daily, Iowa State University


The Iowa State Daily was founded in 1890. It distributes 12,500 copies on weekdays during the fall and spring semesters. It produces online content only during the summer. The paper employs over 200 students during the year.

The Kentucky Kernel, University of Kentucky


The Kentucky Kernel was first published in 1908 and became independent in 1972. The paper is distributed Monday through Friday, with a print circulation of 8,000 copies.

The Kentucky Kernel has won the National Pacemaker Award three times.

The Lantern, Ohio State University


The Lantern, founded in 1881, is one of the nation’s largest student newspapers, with a print circulation of 15,000. The paper is published Monday through Friday. At one time, the paper had a print circulation of 28,000.

The Maroon, Loyola University, New Orleans


The Maroon was first published in 1923. It is now published on Fridays during the regular school year. In addition to The Maroon, Loyola students also publish The Wolf, The Maroon Minute, and The Maroon Online. The Wolf is a stand-alone magazine published six times per year. The Morning Minute is a one-minute morning newscast distributed through social media. According to The Maroon’s website, they don’t consider themselves a student newspaper, but rather a community newspaper serving a university.

The Michigan Daily, University of Michigan


The Michigan Daily has been publishing continuously since 1890. It is printed Monday through Friday during the fall and winter terms and once weekly during the spring and summer terms. The playwright Arthur Miller is counted among the alumni of The Michigan Daily.

The Minnesota Daily, University of Minnesota


The Minnesota Daily was founded in 1900. It distributes 12,150 copies Monday through Thursday during the school year, while 10,000 copies are printed on Wednesdays during the summer. The paper boasts that it is the largest student-run newspaper in the nation and the fourth-largest newspaper overall in the state of Minnesota. The Minnesota Daily has won numerous awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Associated College Press.

The Red & Black, University of Georgia


The Red & Black has been published continuously since 1893, but became independent of the university in 1980. Their print edition has a circulation of 10,000 copies and reaches a population of nearly 45,000, both on campus and in the local community. In 2012, the staff of the paper staged a walkout in protest of non-student employees that the board had hired and vested with veto-power over student decisions. The walkout lasted a few days before the board agreed to the students’ demands.

The Stanford Daily, Stanford University


The Stanford Daily was founded in 1892 and became independent of the university in 1973 following disagreements with the school’s administration over coverage of anti-Vietnam War protests on campus. The paper has a print circulation of 8,000 copies and publishes Monday through Friday during the academic year.

The Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


The Tech is the oldest and largest newspaper on MIT’s campus. It has been published continuously since 1881. Today, it is printed on Thursdays during the regular academic year and once monthly during the summer.

The Rice Thresher, Rice University


The Rice Thresher was founded in 1916, and is currently printed on Wednesdays, with a circulation of 3,000. In 2018, the Associated Collegiate Press named it The Best Newspaper for a Four-Year University Under 5,000 Students. In addition, The Rice Thresher was named the third-best college newspaper in the nation by The Princeton Review. They have a print circulation of 8,000 copies, for 2018.

The Washington Square News, New York University


The Washington Square News is one of the younger newspapers on our list, but its influence is still great. It has a print circulation of 10,000 copies and serves NYU, Greenwich Village, and the East Village in New York City. It is published once weekly on Mondays. It also produces an online publication Tuesday through Friday during the regular academic year.

The Yale Daily News, Yale University


The Yale Daily News was founded on January 28, 1878. It claims to be the nation’s oldest daily college newspaper. The paper now prints Monday through Friday, with a Friday supplement called WEEKEND. They also publish several special editions each year, including the Harvard-Yale Game issue, the Freshman issue, and the Commencement issue.

And if you’re planning on attending college online and hoping to break into the world of news reporting, check out The 10 Best Online Bachelor’s in Journalism Programs or The five Best Online Master’s in Journalism Programs.

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