Center Hall, a lecture hall near the center of UCSD campus. Photo by Wikipedia Commons.
It was early June when the legendary congressman John Lewis cancelled his scheduled commencement address at the University of California, San Diego. Lewis had backed out in a show of solidarity with a union strike involving UC workers just two weeks before graduation. Gary Robbins, a science and technology reporter at the San Diego Union Tribune was juggling three stories that afternoon, but found time to cover the news anyways. Robbins is not a higher-education reporter, but his work places him on UCSD and other research university campuses in the area frequently. Without a dedicated higher-education reporter at the daily paper, the 40-year veteran has become the paper’s de facto correspondent, filing higher-education stories when he can find the time.
Robbins says he might have missed the Lewis story were it not for a tip he got from a student reporter.
All over the country, daily newspapers and metro sections have thinned as revenue streams have dried up. For the education beat, this has left journalists responsible for covering impossibly large areas—and more reliant on college newspapers. The burden is especially potent in California, home to a three-tiered public university system that represents a massive chunk of the state budget and includes California State University–the largest in the US—as well as the 10-campus University of California system and a host of public community colleges.
Gabriel Schneider, a recent
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