In looking back at our last 85 years with this issue, which comes 85 years to the day that The Hoya was founded, it is both fitting and appropriate to take this opportunity to look at the future of Georgetown’s newspaper of record.
The editors of The Hoya work diligently every week to produce the best possible newspaper for the campus community. And that is why the editors of The Hoya have concluded that it is time for The Hoya to become independent of Georgetown University.
Once The Hoya becomes an independent publication, it will be able to most effectively manage its resources and make its own decisions to better reach its primary goal – serving the campus community. The Hoya will become a better newspaper and its staff better journalists.
Georgetown University deserves an independent newspaper – a newspaper that has full control over its editorial and financial operations.
Incorporation and independence will offer greater responsibility, accountability and flexibility for the editorial and business offices of The Hoya. By creating a newsroom and business office that remain independent of the university, The Hoya will be able to not only maintain full control over the day-to-day editorial and financial decisions of the newspaper but also set and maintain the long-term growth plans for the newspaper.
It is no coincidence that the nation’s finest college newspapers are also independent. Every Ivy League school. Notre Dame, Duke, Stanford, Boston College, George Washington and the list goes on. Certainly, Georgetown belongs in this league. Independence has long been a dream for Hoya editors, a dream long overdue.
Ever since Joseph Mickler (C ’20) and his peers began this newspaper in a Ryan Hall dormitory room 85 years ago, editors have made countless decisions that affect the operation of the newspaper.
Mickler might be surprised to see what The Hoya has become. Today it publishes, on average, 16 pages twice each week. It operates a budget of $250,000, generating an average $40,000 profit every year for the past decade. It has expanded its coverage, added issues and built a strong name for itself on campus and off. And it remains the best education in journalism available at Georgetown University.
But everyone agrees that this newspaper has a great deal of room for improvement. Complete financial freedom will offer editors the chance to reinvest their profits back into the newspaper. Under the status quo, Media Board approval for new initiatives often impedes innovation and progress. Editors have few incentives to work to turn a profit because the Media Board, not The Hoya, chooses how to allocate all of this money between the university’s nine media organizations.
As a matter of fairness, editors that work 30 and more hours every week should be paid. The Hoya should be able to recruit a larger paid business staff to increase advertising revenue.
The staff should be able to invest some of its earnings into office equipment that will only add to the quality of the newspaper. The Hoya can become a better newspaper, more accountable to itself and its readers, if it is given the chance to properly govern itself.
For sure, independence will not solve all of the newspaper’s challenges and it will likely add a whole new set of challenges. At present, the board of directors is devising the necessary checks and balances to ensure that the newspaper comfortably maintains responsible leadership.
The Hoya’s board of directors and board of editors voted to approve the move to independence last spring. Since then, top editors have met with student leaders, faculty senators and university administrators to make the newspaper’s case for independence. Today, we wish to make clear our aspirations and plans to our most important audience, our readers.
While an independent newspaper may be a first for Georgetown, independent and thriving student organizations are not new to Georgetown. Both the Credit Union and The Corp illustrate the enormous potential for student initiative. And both of these independent Georgetown institutions reinforce the importance of a strong working relationship with the university.
The Hoya remains committed to preserving the friendly and supportive relationship that it currently has with Georgetown’s administration, faculty and staff, as they are the newspaper’s link to the group we most strongly seek to serve – Georgetown students. The Hoya does not wish to leave Georgetown. It only seeks to retain a higher level of autonomy so that it can better serve Georgetown.
At the heart of the drive for independence is a deep-seated desire to significantly improve the operating system of The Hoya for future generations of Hoyas. The Hoya will always remain committed to the same high standards of responsibility and fairness in reporting, striving to inform, persuade and entertain the campus community.
The upcoming semester promises to be exciting in many ways. In April we will celebrate our 85th year with an alumni weekend, just as we mark our anniversary today with this issue.
But beyond this semester, an independent Hoya will ensure that the next 85 years will give Georgetown cause to, as Mickler wrote in the first issue of this newspaper, “applaud.using both hands with all the enthusiasm you can muster for the occasion.”