FreePFunded: Why we keep saving student newspapers

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We all thought the FreeP was a goner.

Boston University’s Daily Free Press announced Nov. 10 that they had to raise $70,000 in around eight weeks if they wanted to keep printing. The number comes from a gargantuan debt owed to the printer, Turley Publications, that gave the paper an ultimatum earlier this month.

But the paper survived, raising around $82,000 in two days.

With more and more dailies going online (The Seattle Post Intelligencer, for instance), why save a print edition at all? Big-name journalists around the country have said it’s worth saving, including Saba Hamedy of the Los Angeles Times,  Bill O’Reilly of FOX News and David Carr of The New York Times. So how did the Daily Free Press raise over $70,000 in two days? Here’s what the experts are saying:

1.They had already cut down the print presence

The Daily Free Press began printing weekly for the first time since its inception this semester. They developed a design team for the layout and began playing with more inventive ways to print their issue. Originally, the weekly issue was an attempt to curb the mounting printing debt, but the choice may be a smarter choice than the paper originally thought.

Student newspapers around the country have been cutting down on the daily print presence. The University of Oregon’s Daily Emerald prints twice each week and promotes their website first and foremost, a change they explained in a PBS Media Shift story. The Columbia Daily Spectator announced a switch to a weekly print edition in April of this year. To David Carr, New York Times columnist and professor within the College of Communication, weekly printing is far from unreasonable.

“I talked to some of the kids [at the Daily Free Press] and asked them what they were doing to stay relevant, and they said, ‘You know, we knocked our print edition down to once a week, we redesigned to make it more user-friendly…’ It seemed like they were doing everything they were supposed to,” David Carr said.

2. They had pimped out the website

The Daily Free Press didn’t pretend online is irrelevant. Around the time they switched to weekly printing, the student paper redesigned their website to include more exclusive content, longer versions and better multimedia.

Again, the FreeP is following successful trends: The Columbia Daily Spectator moved to 24-hour coverage online alongside weekly printing, the same way the Daily Emerald did two years prior.

“Even if all the weekly issue does is serve as a brochure or a hood ornament for the online website… I think it’s okay,” Carr said.

3. They have a powerful alumni network

Saba Hamedy of the Los Angeles Times has little to nothing in common with FOX News anchor Bill O’Reilly. Except, of course, that they’re both FreePers.

“When I’m stressed, I still go to them for advice or for lead writing,” Hamedy said in the Daily Free Press testimonial video released this week.

Tyler Lay, chairman of the board at Back Bay Publishing (the board of directors at the Daily Free Press), sent out an email to alumni asking for donations at the beginning of FreePFund. When they opened the GoFundMe, a slew of familiar bylines popped up. Hamedy donated to the FreePFund through the GoFundMe. Bill O’Reilly donated $10,000 to the Daily Free Press, the second-largest donation made to the fundraising effort.

“We had a blast, it was just a great experience … I wanted other students at the school to have the same experience I did,” O’Reilly said in an interview with Business Insider.

4. Boston’s a hotbed of journalism

“Boston is, really, a good journalism town,” Carr said. “There’s a hunger in the community for journalism, some of which is embodied in an actual, physical paper.” Historically, this perspective makes sense. The first newspaper printed in the United States was the Boston News-Letter. Benjamin Franklin learned to print in Boston before moving to Philadelphia. The first war correspondence took place during the Revolutionary war. A love of independent journalism may just be in our genes.

5. They stayed independent

“Recent experience has shown that non-independent journalism doesn’t work out very well,” Carr said.

The Daily Free Press is a completely independent newspaper. It receives no funding from the university, and actually pays the university rent for its editing space. The founders of the FreeP thought this principle was crucial, especially considering the campus climate during which it was born. Massive protests on campus turned violent after the Kent State shooting, and the paper decided to report without the sway of the administration.

“It’s a very positive experience when you have a newspaper not run by teachers,” O’Reilly said in the same interview.



News Track: Election Coverage (or lack thereof)

Story: Why the 2014 Midterms Matter – and Why Nobody Seems to Care,

Source: Vice News

Vice News wrote one story on the election yesterday. It didn’t make the first screen, included one photo (of an “I Voted” sticker), and included zero updates or results. For an organization claiming Americans should care about the midterm elections, they don’t seem to practice what they preach.

Within the first three graphs, Ari Ratner makes two claims – that Washington would not be fixed by the best-possible results in the then-anticipated midterms, and that the political system is broken. Tacked on to the end of his third graph, he adds “the stakes… remain high.”

Ratner goes on to explain what anyone with a basic understanding of this year’s midterm already knows: Republicans were favored to take back the Senate, and that it would be a victory for the democrats if the republicans fell short. And yet, the argument and its delivery fail to explain why we should care. So far, only Ratner has fallen short.

After all of that riveting non-news, Vice splices the story with a link to a completely unrelated documentary about coal mining. It feels as if Vice is as bored as Ratner is.

This reporter doesn’t blame Vice.

If Republicans succeed, expect a new series of confrontations. There will be showdowns with the President. There will be squabbling within their own caucus between hardliners angling for the party’s presidential nomination — such as Texas Senator Ted Cruz — and moderates who will have to protect their seats in 2016, when the electoral map favors Democrats.

Again, Ratner offers no new, insightful information. How are presidential showdowns or inner-caucus squabbles in any way different from the typical work day for a senator?

Ratner’s piece feels closer to a news summary, maybe even a News Track, than a story. He refers back to past election coverage, saying Vice focused their election coverage on the environment — an interesting, noble effort. However, we have no way to scroll through past stories excluding a collection of hyperlinks. Why not create a midterm election tab at the top of the page, alongside the Islamic State, Ferguson, Ebola and Ukraine?

It’s possible that, in the eyes of Vice (and potentially the rest of the world), death and destruction are far more newsworthy.


I still love radio: freelance work for WTBU

This semester has been crazy, folks.

When I started this semester, I had such big plans. “Oh, Brooke, this is the semester you start working at WTBU! You’re going to move up the ladder at Simmer and start freelancing for local magazines!” Instead, I spend most of my time thinking about David Carr’s class (which is valid – his class is truly one of the most important I’ve ever taken), internship applications, column writing for Jon Klarfeld, my medium pieces, how freelancing even works (why isn’t there a class on THAT?), making money so I can stay here this summer (working 15 hours a week, serving delicious pizza to the masses – real talk, I do love my job at OTTO. Everyone there is really supportive and helpful, and the pizza is genuinely dope. Have you HAD their pulled pork and mango pizza? I’m not kidding, that stuff is magic), keeping the kitchen fairly clean so my roommates don’t murder me in my sleep and trying to maintain the positions I still have, thanks to my very understanding editors (Thaaaank you, Nisreen and Hannah!). I worked my first Yelp event of the year on Sunday, I have my first Simmer story of the year due Friday and I have my first real FreeP story of the year due Monday (look out for that one – I interviewed the director of Dear White People! He’s really incredible. The movie’s great. Go watch it on Friday). I can’t remember the last time I had more than five hours of sleep (I’m averaging 2-3). I can’t remember the last time I truly listened to a full radio broadcast (I multitask to radio constantly, but I don’t absorb much). But regardless, why brag about the fact you’re busy? Everyone’s busy. Mindy Kaling talked about that in her book. No one wants to be that guy. Plus, I hear this is what real life is like if you’re a journalist, so I guess I’m in training.

ANYWAY, I wanted to share my FIRST radio broadcast of the year. It took way too long, and I miss radio so so much. I was supposed to do a radio show with some of the folks with News Brunch this year, but a particular gentleman at WTBU accidentally scheduled us at the same time as a pre-existing show. SO, instead, I freelance. …Sometimes. When I have time.

In JO304 (Online Journalism), I was assigned an audio report, and I was actually really excited. It was a chance to do a radio thing again! I decided to follow in the gigantic footsteps of BU-alum Nina Totenberg and do a story on the new Supreme Court session, particularly a case involving free speech, death threats and social media (basically all I write about these days… cough cough #GamerGate). I thought I’d share it here. It aired on WTBU on Thursday, Oct. 9.

Because the embed seems to be a mess, here’s a link to my soundcloud.


You’re hard-pressed to find better cider than Boston’s

Chaider (a combination of chai and cider) is only one of the cider options at Blue State Coffee in West Campus.
Chaider (a combination of chai and cider) is only one of the cider options at Blue State Coffee in West Campus.

Move over, pumpkin spice: Nothing screams fall like warm apple cider, and there’s nowhere better to drink it than Boston itself.

A classic New England tradition, apple cider was introduced in the United States by the early colonists, who used the fruit of the abundant crabapple trees for alcoholic and non-alcoholic ciders alike. John Adams himself allegedly drank a tankard of apple cider every day to settle his stomach.

Today, there are several Massachusetts institutions pressing their own cider and distributing to stores and cafes around the state. At the Copley and SoWa farmer’s markets, local vendors sell their own homemade apple cider, hard and sweet, for Bostonians to sample and serve to family and friends.

The secret to homemade apple cider is a little love and mulling spice. Brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and orange peel transform cold apple cider into something warm and toasty. Bring that to a simmer for about thirty minutes and boom – sweet and spicy goodness for any Halloween party or cold Sunday afternoon. The allspice and cinnamon balance the sweetness of the added sugar, while the molasses in the brown sugar plays off the crisp flavor of the apples. Make sure you buy a tart pressed apple cider – the sweet stuff you buy at the supermarket will make your homemade cider too sweet.


Recipe: Homemade Spiced Cider

1 gallon local apple cider

½ cup brown sugar

3 cinnamon sticks

2 tbsp grated orange peel

4 whole cloves

1 tbsp whole allspice

1 ½ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp freshly chopped ginger


Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan or crockpot and bring to a simmering boil, stirring periodically. Lower the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain spices from liquid and serve with whipped cream, rum or a shake of cinnamon.


DSC_0003But let’s be honest here –Part of the fun of drinking cider is going out to a small hole-in-the-wall with cushy chairs and old jazz, where you can bring a book and pretend you don’t have twenty pounds of homework sitting on your desk. Some places get creative, too: West Campus favorite Blue State Coffee makes “chaider,” a chai-tea-apple-cider fusion that makes a lot more sense when you think about it. Boston’s award-winning coffeehouse Thinking Cup has fresh, organic, local apple cider delivered every morning. No matter where you are in the city, there’s bound to be a café nearby with a mug waiting for you, that fall harvest scent wafting out the door.

Freepin’ Hard: On covering Boston Calling

Hey, lovelies!

For the second year in a row, I’m representing The Daily Free Press at Boston Calling, and I’m going to start posting my reviews and tweets here. I’ll keep this page updated throughout the weekend, with links to each of my reviews.

I should let you know that I’m sharing a byline with my beautiful editor, and for that reason, I’ll be specifying which reviews are mine on this page.

Last night, I had the absolute privilege to cover a band I have loved for most of my music-listening career that I never thought I’d see live. After fifteen years of silence, Neutral Milk Hotel is back, ladies and gentlemen. I was heartbroken to miss their comeback tour last year, so getting to see them at BC was unbelievably special. The review went up last night — I worked hard on this one, so please check it out!

Photo Diary: Oregon Country Fair

Oregon Country Fair. I wish I could describe the experience of OCF in a way that makes sense. I wish anyone could. No one can really capture it.

Imagine a Renaissance Fair in a forest, but then imagine you removed all of the Renaissance from it. Now, replace the Renaissance with Deadhead paraphernalia and Merry Pranksters. No, that’s not right. Add some more parades. Also, everyone’s naked. Well, not EVERYONE, just everyone over the age of sixty or under the age of five.  And some young adults. Now, add facepaint. No, more facepaint. Oh, and body paint. Don’t forget to add the loincloths. And the fairy wings, you can’t have Fair without the fairy wings. Now, throw an entire white reggae band in there, and a couple of acoustic guitarists. Top it off with some nutritional yeast and BOOM – that’s fair.

I’ve thought about writing something about Fair for years, but each time I try, I fail. There’s something intangible about it, something magical on a level I have never experienced. And I’m not even a fair baby. My boyfriend has been going to fair every year since he was six months old, working in booths and camping behind a stage for most of his life. When I came this year, I decided I’d bring a camera instead, try to capture the magic with a DSLR. But pictures can’t do it, either. Nothing can truly capture waking up to the sound of parades, the taste of a salmon burger during a poetry slam, the color of rainbow tents in the sunshine. And music, music in the air – he or she must have been talking about fair when someone first used that phrase.

Simmer Magazine, and my first step into recipe writing

My mother is the chef in my family. I have always been, most simply, an eater.

My father's recipe for Oaxacan Chiles Rellenos was posted on Simmer earlier this month.
My father’s recipe for Oaxacan Chiles Rellenos was posted on Simmer earlier this month.

I come from a long line of cooking women. My great-grandmother was an award-winning pie baker in Iowa City, Iowa, where she donated the winnings to charities each year. My grandmother’s sticky buns were world famous (or at least thought they were), dripping in homemade caramel and fluffy with – get this – instant mashed potatoes. My mother, a rebel born in the age of second-wave feminism and independence, skipped the Midwestern domestic goddess routine and tried to transform her love of the culinary arts into something new. Instead of baking, my mom worked in a fine dining restaurant on the Oregon coast, a ’60s institution, serving Manhattans and beef Wellington and Baked Alaska. She learned from the chefs there, watched their technique, and eventually moved to Eugene, Oregon, now a ’70s new-age amateur chef studying Psychology and how to throw a dinner party on a college-student’s budget.

Twenty years later, I was born. I was raised in the household of a woman who had been around the bend, never panicked in the kitchen, knew how to save any fallen souffle or breaking hollandaise. I sat in the kitchen nook and watched her, boisterously singing along to Aretha Franklin as she popped leeks in the oven, whisked sauteed shallots with heavy cream, wrangled a turkey on Thanksgiving. When I helped, I was peeling potatoes, reducing vinegar, stirring. The kitchen was her domain, and if I was going to learn, I was going to start at the bottom.

Nisreen Galloway, a talented young woman who constantly astounds me with her ambition and accomplishments, came to me after we shared an internship at NoshOn.It. She had founded a food e-magazine called Simmer, which was designed for the college foodie. It had recipes, restaurant reviews and even plain-old food porn. She asked me if I had any interest in working for Simmer over the summer and, without an internship or any particular plans, I happily agreed.

My first recipe was an ordeal. Unlike my mother, I am a wreck in the kitchen. I am frantic, ready to give up any time a sauce thickens too quickly or a piece of chicken burns. But with time, a few deep breaths and a spoonful of goat cheese, I began to slow down, let myself take notes as I doctored up soup broths and simmering liquid, captured steps with my Nikon, tasted each ingredient and remembered other moments in the kitchen, other dinner parties, other meals. Cooking family recipes feels like driving to my beach house. Each time I visit, I’m sure I’m going to get lost, but then I see a familiar street sign, the old Greenbury store, the town elementary school. All the panic goes away. My confidence climbs back into the front seat. Memories have always been the road signs, the co-pilot, the sous-chef.

I have three recipes posted on the Simmer website. All of them hold significant positions in my personal history, from beach trips with my mother to evenings cooking with my father (a rare occurrence, let me tell you). I love finding peace in the kitchen. I’m working for a catering company this summer, and I love walking into the staging area and understanding what the chefs do, watching people pair flavors and watching guests admire successful pairings. I have always loved food, will always love it, but this summer I’ve rediscovered the pleasure in creating something delicious, watching eaters instead of doing the eating.

Cold Cucumber Soup

Mexican Grilled Street Corn

Oaxacan Chiles Rellenos

Three Cheese Flatbread with Bay Shrimp

Spicy Chili-Lime Tortilla Soup with Avocado