Western Michigan University may have been ahead of the curve in the way it supports student media. Earlier this month, university trustees approved a five-dollar fee that all students will pay beginning this fall. Students approved the fee in a referendum late last month. It will raise about $150,000 a year to support the Western Herald, WMU's student newspaper, and the student-run radio station WIDR-FM. Some money will also go to the Young Broadcasters of Tomorrow, a student group that hopes to set up a campus video news service.
Now, other schools around the country are looking at similar fees. The online publication Inside Higher Ed reports that Rutgers University and the University of California-Irvine are considering student media fees. The Rutgers student paper has received support from fees since 1980 but must seek renewals every few years.
Student-run media outlets have been hit by the same forces challenging off campus newspapers and radio stations, especially steep declines in advertising revenue.