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Lindenwood University: Ending publication of magazine due to digital strategy, not censorship

The Legacy magazine began publication last fall. The magazine has won numerous awards including 16 awards from the Missouri College Media Association Conference.
Brian Heffernan | St. Louis Public Radio
The Legacy magazine will cease physical publication. University officials said it will continue in an online format.

Students, administrators and journalism organizations are reacting to Lindenwood University’s decision to cease the physical publication of the student-run magazine, The Legacy.

Student-staff was notified by the university that printing of The Legacy would shut down on Friday, sparking accusations of censorship from student-media staff. Lindenwood University alumni have voiced their concerns over the announcement, said The Legacy News Editor, Madeline Raineri. She said students and alumni are considering what to do next.

“We haven't really had anything established concrete right now because we're still trying to wait and see if there's going to be any reversal on this decision from the university,” Raineri said.

MORE: Read an editorial about The Legacy written by Lindenwood student journalists

The magazine will continue but only online, said Dean of the School of Arts, Media and Communication, Joseph Alsobrook. He denied the accusations of censorship and said the decision was made to focus on a digital strategy for the school.

“It just doesn’t need to be printed,” Alsobrook said. “Americans, particularly young Americans, are consuming more and more and more of their news online, so you know, it’s a question of value, does it need to be printed and we decided no.”

Content controversy?

A new digital strategy will coincide with the opening of a new media lab at Lindenwood University, Alsobrook said. The lab will allow for more interactions between various media departments and will emphasize the digital aspect of journalism.

“We’ll be able to package stories in multiple formats and our students will be working together, just like in the real world, and be working in multiple formats just as we were highly recommended,” Alsobrook said.

He said that the same type of content that is being published by the magazine could be published online if the students choose to do so. Student produced content is currently published on the school's online puiblication Lindenlink. Lindenwood also publishes PDF versions of the magazine online. He said that practice will continue with this new strategy. Students accused the university of killing the print publication because officials were uncomfortable with its content.

“We are simply not printing it. The students will still publish The Legacy as they have been doing online,” Alsobrook said.

On Friday, members of The Legacy said the university cited funding issues as a reason for cutting the physical publication, on Monday Alsobrook told St. Louis Public Radio the decision to stop the magazine was because of a greater emphasis on digital stories.

Organizations react

Several journalism organizations reacted to the matter, including the St. Louis chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

“Student publications are certainly not immune to the ongoing struggle for print media to stay financially viable in a digital universe,” said chapter president Elizabeth Donald in a statement. “Students cannot learn responsible journalism if their publications are closed down for a few ruffled feathers. At best they will only learn to write safe marketing campaigns for their institutions, and that is not the kind of journalism we need today.”

Eliminating one form of media might hinder students being best prepared for the industry, Donald said. She continued that these actions by universities are not new and that other schools have also experienced cuts to their media programs.

The College Media Association has also talked with Raineri and said an investigation is possible.

“The question here is whether that is being done as a cost cutting measure or whether indeed they’re just trying to reduce the visibility, and that I do not know,” said Robert Bergland, College Media Association First Amendment Advocacy Committee Chair.

The Legacy magazine launched in the fall of 2017 and has earned 16 awards from the Missouri College Media Association conference. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.