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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2001

UDK among top six in nation

August 11, 2001

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Students at Kansas University are justifiably proud of the award-winning writing and advertising in the University Daily Kansan.

Of course, there are also occasions when Kansan staff feel like they're working at the Humble Times.

It's part of the ups and downs of operating a daily newspaper on a large, diverse campus, said Kursten Phelps, a Manhattan journalism major who will be Kansan editor this fall semester.

"Ultimately, all decisions are made by students," Phelps said.

The Kansan is a laboratory publication for the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The $1 million enterprise reaches thousands of print and online readers from a base in Stauffer-Flint Hall.

It's financed primarily by advertising revenue but supported by student fees. Students, faculty and staff can pick up "free" copies of the Kansan at drop boxes scattered across campus. About 10,000 copies are snatched up each morning.

Tom Eblen, general manager of the Kansan, provides guidance to students working at the paper. He has watched over the years as the Kansan piled up Pacemaker awards from the National Association of Newspapers and Associated Collegiate Press. These annual awards the Pulitzer Prize of college journalism place KU's student newspaper among the top six collegiate newspapers in the nation.

"The Daily Kansan is regarded as a fine student newspaper," Eblen said.

Kansan staff also last year earned the BASSY Award from the College Newspaper Business and Advertising Managers Inc. It recognizes the nation's most outstanding college newspaper student business and advertising staff.

On the other hand, editors at the Kansan were anything but award-winning in the eyes of some students last spring, during student protests about the paper's reporting of a black student government leadership conference hosted by KU.

A Kansan story on the conference devoted more space in the paper to a fight that broke out at a party attended by conference participants than it did to conference activities.

Phelps said the situation was a learning experience that highlighted the difficulty of covering positive and negative activities of student peers.

"We're all more aware of the decisions we make and how they influence people," she said.

Phelps said she would have two readers' representatives on staff this fall to serve as liaisons to the public.

The Kansan is produced by more than 100 student report-ers, photographers and editors.

Editors are paid for their work, but reporters and copy editors receive class credit.

Reporters on staff focus on sports, police, Student Senate, the university administration, multicultural groups, city government and entertainment. Columnists and the editorial board share personal perspectives for readers. Additional stories are supplied by The Associated Press.

Typically, the Kansan features students' in-depth reporting projects at the end of each semester.

Starting this fall, the Kansan will operate in a new competitive atmosphere.

Collection of a new student fee will support "free" distribution to students of four off-campus newspapers. Students with a proper ID can get the Lawrence Journal-World, The Kansas City Star, the New York Times and USA Today.

Phelps said she was initially uncomfortable with the ar-rangement. She thought these papers would draw many readers away from the Kansan.

"I really like it now," Phelps said. "Anything that gets people to read more, it's beneficial to us."

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