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Newspapers have no space for news
( 2003-09-11 10:27) (China Daily)

Fang Yu, a junior at Beijing Foreign Studies University, has a quick glance at the new campus newspaper. A minute later, she's finished reading and threw the newspaper in the bin.

"Campus newspapers are never informative and always seem boring," Fang says.

Fang is not the only one with this problem. All her 34 classmates complain about campus newspapers and give them the cold shoulder.

Other university papers are receiving similar complaints. Papers at schools like Tsinghua have similar problems.

"Lack of diverse news resources and a distance from students' lives are the two main reasons for the unpopularity of campus newspapers," says Luo Jianhui, a professor of journalism at Renmin University.

Guo Jia, a student from Tsinghua University describes the situation.

He says there are three newspapers on campus at Tsinghua, all of them funded by the university. "The content only deals with official news from school authorities and the layout is always dull," says Guo.

Beijing University of Chinese Medicine is in the same boat.

Only one of the three newspapers published by the university covers campus news about the students themselves. The other two aim to spread basic know-how on Chinese medicine.

"We are being let down by the newspapers. They rarely cover our complaints about poor meals and bad dorm management," says Zhang Fei, a junior at the school.

According to Luo, today's students do not care about news that has nothing to do with them.

What they need is a newspaper that allows them to keep abreast of campus developments; that is also thought-provoking. They also want a forum to voice their concerns and feelings.

That's why two newspapers at Renmin University are having some success.

Youth Weekly and News Weekly, published by Renmin University students, cover the latest news affecting them, and carry investigations and in-depth reports on things like campus fraud and what makes a good professor.

"The stories in the two weeklies always have a keen sense of what we students really care about," says Chen Si, a Chinese major.

Youth Weekly has a staff of more than 200. Students are trained before they become reporters and then are assigned a beat.

The training covers how to find a news source, write a news story and manage an interview.

News Weekly is published by journalism students. It is popular because of a column where students are allowed to voice their opinions.

"Students are welcome to express their views and give advice about our newspaper," says Xuhong, a reporter for the newspaper.

The rich resources at these newspapers are what most universities lack.

"Lack of reporting staff is a major problem for most campus newspapers," says Luo.

Zijin, a weekly at Tsinghua, only has 15 student reporters, and all of them have a heavy course load and can't devote much time to interviewing, writing and editing, says Li Lefu, the editor.

Li also says that newspapers lack staff because students can't make money doing it so they prefer to get a part-time job elsewhere.

Worse still, students say that newspapers are being replaced by BBS. "It's timely and its easy to express your own ideas on it," says Fang.

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