Save Leeds Student: Paper Can't Afford To Print Following Funding Cuts

Leo Garbutt

Award-winning student paper the Leeds Student is fighting for survival following funding cuts which mean it can no longer afford to run in print, and has been backed by numerous famous journalists.

Leeds University student Kyle Hulme has launched a petition to save the weekly newspaper, which desperately needs money from the student union in order to continue running.

Hulme says students will be left "without a voice" if the cuts go ahead. The paper is part funded by Leeds University Union (LUU), and part funded by advertising - which is controlled by the union.

According to the paper, despite "numerous attempts" by student volunteers to save the publication through external advertising, proposals were turned down on the grounds it would pose a threat to LUU's own services.

The paper has produced many a successful journalist, including the Guardian's Jay Rayner, who edited the Leeds Student in the late 80s.

Robin Perrie, journalist at the Sun and former editor of the LS, told HuffPost UK: "Leeds Student has been a brilliant training ground for journalists for decades and is also a vital tool for holding the students union to account.

"After such a long and proud history it would be a disgrace if LUU allowed it to fold."

The Times' feature writer Damian Whitworth told us the news was "terrible".

"There have always been wrangles between the student union and the paper and hopefully this one can be resolved as well. It will be very sad if not as the paper has been the nursery for shoals of journalists, some of them very big fish like Paul Dacre and Nick Witchell.

"Next week two Leeds Student alumni start work in high profile jobs, Kamal Ahmed as BBC business editor and David Walmsley as editor in chief at the Toronto Globe. For many of us Leeds Student proved a career shaping experience and its loss would be very keenly felt."

Whitworth added of the five writers on the Times' features desk, three were Leeds Student alumni.

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Why Leeds Student needs to be saved

In 2012, the paper became the first to be nominated for a national media award in the local or regional news site category of the Online Media Awards.

Editor Rehema Figueiredo told HuffPost UK the LUU has failed its students by failing to fund the paper.

"As the voice of students on campus, this paper feels it is your right to be heard. LS offers thousands of students every year the opportunity to do so. LS is run by a team of 45 volunteers who consistently and selflessly give up several days a week to bring this paper to you, often at the expense of their academic work. Hundreds of students use this paper as a space to express themselves, writing reviews, news articles and comment pieces. If this paper is not a priority for LUU, it begs the question ‘what is?’

"The exclusion of the two Editor candidates from the Leadership Race’s main ballot process for the first time is a further example of the de-prioritisation of this publication and all that is stands for. This paper has a long and illustrious history of upholding free speech, producing quality content and being led by students who go on to do great things in the national media. The continuation of our reputation is now put at risk by the very institution it relies on."

LUU's activities officer Greg Sturge said: "It is encouraging that our societies appreciate the role LS has within the Union community. There have been issues in the working relationship between the Union and LS this year, and lessons have been learned on both sides. However, we will be working hard together over the coming months to ensure that LS is back on it’s feet by September."

Lib Dem local MP Greg Mulholland told HuffPost UK: "Leeds Student is a key part of campus life for many students and with nearly a thousand people having signed the petition to save the paper, it is clearly very popular too.

"Leeds Student has a proud history of having launched the careers of many well-known journalists at national newspapers, my own staff members have also been active with the paper in the past! The fact it was nominated for 'Publication of the Year' at the 2012 Guardian Student Media Awards shows it is also a very high quality paper, so I hope both Leeds University Union and Leeds Student will be able to find the funds needed to keep the paper going."

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