Start The Presses!: A Handbook For Student Journalists, edited by Stanley K. Ridgley, foreword by William F. Buckley Jr.
It is to be greatly lamented that I was never aware of the existence of conservative publications at any of the universities which I attended and received a degree from. During the course of my education at the University of Southern California, the University of South Florida, and Norwich University, it is only in the last case where there was any personal involvement in the political matters that have so often divided people, and that was by accident thanks to social media rather than by conscious design. Despite the fact that I have always had a viewpoint that is right of center, at no point in my educational career did I ever come across alternative newspapers or magazines that sought my participation, and the only student newspaper of any kind that I was involved in was in writing a monthly column for a seminary journal whose staff I was a part of. Reading this book reminded me of the sort of missed opportunities I had in cultivating my craft as a writer by not having been exposed to such things as a university student where it might have made a difference in what I did with my life.
This book is a short one at just over 100 pages, but it is full of useful advice from people who have the experience in running independent conservative campus newspapers and who want to encourage others to do the same thing and to do it well. The book begins with a foreword by William F. Buckley Jr., who writes about his own efforts and how he acquired a reputation because of his writing about what it meant to be a conservative at Yale. After that there is an exploration about why one would start a campus publication–largely because a void exists in the expressing of right-of-center views in an academic environment (1). There is a discussion of the first steps that are necessary in dealing with the logistics of running a campus newspaper and how much it costs and what supplies are necessary (2). After that there is a story seminar on what sort of articles and beats are of use in keeping a newspaper relevant and fresh (3) as well as the publishing topics that can encourage the growth of journalism skills in writers and editors (4). The authors explore second steps about how to build momentum and keep a newspaper going for the long run (5) as well as dealing with trouble situations (6) and the attitudes about newspapers and writing that exist (7). The book ends with an epilogue about the battle of ideas on college campuses, an appendix on how to write a grant proposal to the Collegiate Network and an index.
What this book does and does very well is to provide a wealth of practical insight and experience and thoughtful advice to those who wish to create a conservative press in the contemporary climate of leftist campus activism and journalism. The authors do not sugarcoat the difficulties in maintaining a solid ideological edge while also providing the sort of local campus insight that allows for a successful effort, and this is a book that deserves to be read and studied and applied by a great many people. Given the large number of institutions of higher learning that exist there is still room for a lot more conservative efforts in many places that lack them at present. I wish I would have had this book twenty years ago when I was entering higher learning, but even if I didn’t have it, hopefully it is a book that is able to encourage and inspire a great many who fight the good fight of holding leftist campus activists as well as campus authorities responsible in a world where conservative press efforts are regularly under assault from hostile journos and their political allies