The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Advertisement
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
Advertisement
Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Sixth sense
Neil Jhurani, Sports Writer • June 18, 2024

There’s nothing quite like Omaha when June rolls around.  Fans from across the country head to Charles Schwab Field to watch their teams...

Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
June 16, 2024
Advertisement
Enjoying the Destination
Enjoying the Destination
Cara Hudson, Maroon Life Writer • June 17, 2024

For the history buffs, there’s a story to why Bryan and College Station are so closely intertwined. In 1871 when the Texas Legislature approved...

Advertisement
Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
Review: ‘Furiosa’ is a must-see
Justin ChenJune 4, 2024

My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Sixth sense
June 18, 2024
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
June 16, 2024

Breaking: President Banks demands The Battalion stop printing

Banks+Admin+Building
Photo by By Ishika Samant
Banks Admin Building

Editor’s note: In an email to The Battalion, President Banks informed leadership that print editions would be allowed through the spring 2022 semester, after which she said the publication would be solely digital.

On Thursday, Feb. 10, Dean of Students Anne Reber and interim director of Student Life Stefanie Baker approached The Battalion’s student leadership to inform the organization that university President M. Katherine Banks demands the 129-year old student publication to cease printing weekly editions, effective immediately.

With a physical copy of the 132-page MGT report in hand, Reber said Banks is looking to shift the publication exclusively online as she hopes to transition The Battalion under a new Department of Journalism, the details of which are yet to be released. However, no concrete answer was provided to The Battalion’s leadership in the meeting about why the cease to print was being made.

The earliest Banks could reply for comment was Friday morning, in which she told student leadership that shifting away from print production will allow The Battalion to focus efforts on digital and multimedia. 

“I think it’s a new era for The Battalion,” Banks said. “It won’t be in print.”

When asked why The Battalion’s leadership or other journalism instructors or professionals were not included in the decision-making process, Banks said this was purely “a decision made by university leadership.” 

“This was a decision that was made,” Banks said. “[General Joe Ramirez] and I have talked about it for a few weeks now and feel this is the time to move forward.”

Reber said on Thursday that this immediate decision has been in the making for two weeks. Kelly Brown, associate vice president of A&M’s Marketing & Communications, said in the Friday meeting with Banks that this is a revistation of a decision from three years ago, when The Battalion originally transitioned to student organization status. However, The Battalion’s faculty advisor and student leadership were not told about this decision until Thursday, Feb. 10. 

Despite the administration’s overreaching arm, Banks said collaboration will continue between university leadership and The Battalion moving forward. 

Banks also said she wishes to see The Battalion’s offices moved into the newly planned performing arts building of the School of Performing Arts & Visualization along with KAMU under one roof to foster a digital transformation. 

Though The Battalion has been published online since 1997, the print version has existed in a monthly, weekly or daily format since 1893, the only exception to which was a brief period during World War I. The history of The Battalion and Texas A&M has been deeply connected since the beginnings of the university, as the publication makes up a central part of the A&M Archives through the Cushing Memorial Library. This print edition has been the home of not only daily content, such as news and sports, but has also celebrated the traditions of A&M by honoring graduations, Ring Days, Silver Taps and Muster. 

Banks said The Battalion would still be “allowed” to publish Maroon Life magazines and special editions in collaboration with journalism courses. It was not made clear how the university intends to enforce a ceasing of print publications.

“Consider the positives. We’re not in charge here, the audience is in charge,” Banks said. 

In its current form, The Battalion’s print editions — and its staff — are exclusively funded by advertisements. To compensate for the loss of funds if print editions stop, Reber and Baker said Thursday that the university would ensure The Battalion’s staff are supplemented with what they would have made in wages throughout the rest of the spring semester, but were unclear about plans past May. Banks confirmed this statement on Friday.

However, Douglas Pils, who also serves as The Battalion’s advertising supervisor, said the publication has already finalized $61,000 in advertising deals for the remainder of the semester. One such deal is in collaboration with the University of Texas’ Student Media: a $4,000 Amazon print ad. UT Student Media Director Gerald Johnson said another deal for a $5,000 print ad with a major tech company is nearly finalized, though may have to be reconsidered with this. 

The demand to stop printing comes from Banks — not The Battalion’s readership. Banks said she, as someone who is not a journalist, does not know why print journalism is important. 

“Gen Zs and millennials predominantly receive their news [digitally], and that is the market, here in College Station, certainly [among] college students” Banks said. “I do understand why [other university leadership] felt as if you need to have at least one experience … to understand print media. I’m not a professor of journalism, I don’t understand exactly why [print media] is important to the field.” 

Reber pointed out to student leadership on Thursday that the world itself was moving more toward solely digital news, as opposed to print, and this aligns with Banks’ own digital preferences, not preferences of The Battalion.

When asked if university leadership’s decision was made in response to specific content or advertisements published in The Battalion, Banks said, “Absolutely not.”

“I believe in the freedom of the press,” Banks said. “That’s why I’ve determined, and we’ve decided to invest in journalism on this campus. We need journalists with integrity and professionalism to allow the country to continue as a free, democratic society.”

The administration’s desire to see The Battalion move to exclusively online production and under the official university leadership of a Department of Journalism is illuminated by a recently passed university policy.

Rule 09.02., passed on Oct. 7, 2021, states, “[Official messaging of members], such as signage, social media postings, press releases, news media interviews and website postings, must be approved in accordance with applicable member rules or procedures. Each member chief executive officer will adopt necessary rules and/or procedures to implement this regulation and may delegate approval authority as needed to facilitate effective operations.” 

In The Battalion’s 129-year history, the university has never had oversight over the content published in The Battalion. Final say on all content published digitally and in print has always been up to the editor-in-chief. Banks said on Friday it is not the university’s intention to control the content published in The Battalion. 

On Thursday, Reber told The Battalion’s student leadership they must choose if it is to remain a student organization or make the transition under the new Department of Journalism, the details of which are still unclear, as a purely digital publication. Leadership was asked to make this decision by the end of the next day. 

If The Battalion refuses the demand and remains a student organization, it would be stripped of any relevant resources, including its office space in the basement of the Memorial Student Center and of its faculty advisor, General Manager of Student Media Douglas Pils — longtime advisor and mentor. 

After speaking with Banks, it is unclear at this time whether student leadership has the opportunity to choose to remain a student organization or follow the administration’s demand. Banks said The Battalion is authorized to print at least one final edition, but nothing further. 

Regardless, The Battalion will print on Thursday, Feb. 17.

Editor’s Note: The article has been updated to reflect corrections. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *