by Taylor Nicole Rogers
Student reporters across the nation recently made headlines as they banded together to flood social media with #SaveStudentNewsrooms to raise awareness about the vulnerability of independent college newspapers. Plagued with financial hardship and in danger of having to forfeit their editorial independence to re-affiliate with their universities to secure funding, over 100 publications published editorials to convince the public of their importance.
Unlike many publications its size, The University of Oregon’s Daily Emerald did not publish an editorial on the movement or solicit donations. Despite the elimination of the publication’s travel budget this year, the Daily Emerald is doing just fine under the careful leadership of its 21-year-old editor-in-chief Jack Pitcher.
A junior in the University’s Clark Honors College, Pitcher has long been acutely aware of the industry’s financial instability.
“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve read our local paper, the sports pages and all that,” Pitcher said, “but I was in the boat coming out of high school that it’s really tough to get a job in journalism and that I shouldn’t really go into that even though I’m interested. So I came to the UO and I’m in the Honors College here where you end up having to write a lot of papers anyway and I just started studying business.”
Despite this, the Portland native joined the Daily Emerald as a copy editor at the end of his first year at the UO. He did not think he had enough experience to get hired as a reporter, but according to Newsroom Advisor Jim Sloan, Pitcher drastically underestimated his own abilities.
“Jack has the sensibilities of a veteran news person, which I find remarkable because he's an accounting major,” Sloan said. “He knows when a story is important and he knows how to tell those important stories. Jack prosecutes a story idea as well as anyone I've ever worked with, and I worked in a newsroom for over 25 years. Jack has a keen ability to get right to the heart of a matter, both in his questions and in his writing.”
During his time as a Senior Reporter at the Daily Emerald, Pitcher has covered a campus vendor accused of sexually harassing student employees and the rescue of an animal neglected by another UO student. His most memorable reporting experience however, was investigating a local bar accused of overcharging student’s credit cards during his first full year on the paper.
“That was just a really fun story to do because of how it blew up and all the people commenting,” Pitcher said. “I think there was a hashtag on Twitter. That was definitely a memorable one that I had fun with and got me into reporting even more.”
Producing original reporting relevant to both students and the surrounding community to stimulate readership, along with his no-frills communication style, are Pitcher’s secrets to the Daily Emerald’s success according to Sloan. Such stories allow the Daily Emerald to compete with local professional publications for invaluable advertising dollars.
Now with only four weeks left at the helm of the Daily Emerald, Pitcher will step away from his 90 person staff to attend a Dow Jones News Fund Business Reporting residency program at New York University. Following the 8 day program, he will return to school to complete the quarter before beginning a summer internship with Charlottesville, Virginia newspaper The Daily Progress, where he will be able to combine his academic background in accounting and passion for journalism. Pitcher hopes to do that professionally as a business reporter, in addition to finding more time to ski, after he graduates from the UO in 2019.
“Jack will have a great career in journalism if we can get him to put off his accounting career,” Sloan said.