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John Geraghty

Student media

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Last year myself and a friend, in our final undergraduate semester, decided to found a new College newspaper that would be indpendent of both the College and the Students' Union. The publication started well, with a writers list of around 30 people (though only 10 were frequent contributors) and three issues in our first semester.

As we printed it like a regular newspaper (24 pages, full colour), the costs were huge and we had entered the studet advertising market too late in the year to get any funding from that method. As a result we were heavily in debt coming into this academic year. We are also in great need for more contributors and general helpers. Most of the burden has fallen to me this year, though I enjoy doing it, and so we cold neither afford the time (we get no extra credit for society work, nor do we get any time off College or pay) nor the expense of running more print publications.

This year we have opted to publish online at our website http://www.maynoothadvocate.com . We released an issue last Tuesday, it covered the Students' Union elections that take place on Thursday and a number of other campus events. The hustings (debates) for the electionswere on Tuesday evening, and had it no been for the lack of a wireless internet connection at the venue we would have broadcasted it live over the internet using www.ustream.tv and embedded it on our own site. Our new issue also boasts a few videos that we (when I say 'we' I mean I) shot on campus, including the hustings themselves, the official launch of a student charity event and the launch of Irish language week, which entailed a talk in Irish by public intellectual Desmond Fennell (www.desmondfennell.com) .

Publishing online is completely free, as is broadcasting (it works along the same principles as youtube, but live), as is posting videos. Our costs have gone from €800 per issue to €0, and the content is more interractive. The newspaper is not as visible as it once was, due to the fact that students see no physical manifestation of our work, so we have to find moreinnovative ways of advertising to our readership. I spent much of Tuesday postering the campus and sending out messages using the social networking sites www.bebo.com and www.facebook.com . As it is, there are a few other people writing for the paper, but most of the organisational, design and promotional work falls to myself. If this were not the case, the online format would be a much more viable alternative to an expensive print publication. With a dedicated team of 4/5 people, an online student media would be an extremely powerful method of promoting events, ideas and news. The potential for the establishment of alternative media on campuses around Ireland and Britain is enormous. This is what a few of us have achieved in what spare time we can give, in some Universities the chairs of societies take a sabatical year out- imagine what they could do.

I would be interested in hearing about other College publications that use the internet effectively.

http://www.maynoothadvocate.com

I will create a wikipedia page on our publication.

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