Alternative Journalism: Student Publications Stray from the Norm


The Paper is Fordham University’s alternative newspaper. (Charlotte Canner/The Observer)

Published: November 15, 2007

Have you ever found yourself refraining from publicly cursing ResLife, your respective dean and the rigid Jesuit policies that govern Fordham University with an iron fist? If you have, you’re not alone. But don’t curse yourself for staying silent too soon; deep in the dark depths of the club corridor in Rose Hill’s McGinley Hall, there lies a small office laden with newspaper clippings, graffiti and a less-than-functional couch. Here, the staff of The Paper, Fordham University’s alternative student paper, convenes to produce a publication that makes sure even the most outrageous voices are heard—and that students know exactly what “Daddy Mack” (otherwise known as Father McShane) really does on the weekends.

The Paper is just a drop in the bucket of a growing trend of alternative student publications across the nation. These papers do not strive to be the go-to sources for breaking news, but act as mouthpieces for less mainstream opinions, art and cultural phenomena.

“We write about what’s happening on campus with a focus toward student activism. We provide a voice for what would not run in The Ram,” said News Editor Bill Donahue, FCRH ’09. Rather than skirting around touchy subjects and adhering to administrative standards, The Paper unabashedly publishes the edgy and sometimes offensive viewpoints of students who would normally be censored in The Ram. “We aim to report more interpretive coverage,” said Donahue, “Student perspective is huge.”

A similar lack of connection with traditional school-affiliated publications has led a number of colleges around the country to establish alternative papers that appear both digitally and in hard copy.  A recent article by Elizabeth Redden that appeared on mentions an online alternative publication at Michigan State University called “The Big Green,” in which “students can write about what they’re passionate about and experiment with writing in their own voices as opposed to objective news-speak.” The article cites a rise in these student driven publications as a result of the evolution of blogs and online journalism.

Despite its measly club status budget, the editors at The Paper felt drawn to the boundary-testing publication for various personal reasons.

“When I was a freshman, I read both newspapers [The Ram and The Paper],” said Co-Editor in Chief Jenna Schlosbon, FCRH ’08. “I just identified more with The Paper.”

Though he said he does not have a lot of direct contact with The Paper, Keith Eldredge, LC Dean of Students, said, “I worry that students might see it in the same way that they do The Ram or The Observer, as a source for news, when the focus seems to be more on commenting on issues that they think students are concerned about.”

Some students are wary of the credibility of alternative newspapers. “I think that [The Paper] could use some cleaning up,” said Christina Allison Auriana, FCLC ’08, “The articles are certainly not cutting edge.”

Laurence Agenor, FCLC ’10, likes to “read something that’s unconventional and nonconformist,” but warns, “They can’t be your only source of news. It would be like if you got all your news from “The Colbert Report.” You wouldn’t be entirely aware of the issues at hand.”

Despite doubtful students’ opinions,  The Paper is no stranger to criticism and openly welcomes the opinions of those offended or unimpressed with their publication.

“We’re flattered when people complain about us, because it means people are reading [The Paper],” said Kasperowicz. “Nothing feels better than when we piss people off.”