Student newspapers, newsletters, and periodicals can be found all across the country in physical form, and almost every college and university has a school paper that’s published, at the very least, online. These are essential resources for students to learn about what is going on at the college, on campus, throughout the surrounding community, and around the world. School newspapers cover subjects that are relevant to the student’s lives, highlight student and faculty achievements, and they provide students a first-look into the world of journalism if it’s a place they’d like to end up further along in their lives.
While there is a grand argument about what the oldest school newspaper is, with eight schools claiming that they have that distinction, all of student journalism has a long and rich history dating back to the 1800’s at least. One of the first iterations of a student newspaper was the Dartmouth Gazette in 1799, and since then, college papers have evolved immensely; some of them are published online, some of them are read by thousands of people (at their college and beyond), some have won an award or several. Regardless of what it may be that makes the following twenty papers stand out, you’re about to read about the twenty most impressive school newspapers across America. These are presented in order of founding year, so no paper is ranked as more impressive than the other; this is just a quick inside look at some of the country’s best student journalism.
The Washington Square News, New York University
The Washington Square News has been in consistent publication since the year 1973 and now boasts a circulation of 10,000 along with a readership of 40,000 online. Physical copies are published each Monday throughout the spring and fall semesters along with online editions coming every Tuesday through Thursday. There are some additional copies printed throughout summer as well. This paper was initially two different papers, the The Heights Daily News of the Bronx Campus and the The Washington Square Bulletin of the Washington Square Campus. When New York University merged its two locations, these two papers became one. Former staff of the newspaper has gone on to work for huge publications and news outlets, such as Wall Street Journal, billboard.com, and ABC.
What makes this paper so impressive is that it is entirely independent. The Washington Square News is entirely student-run and financially independent of the university. It has won awards from the New York State Press Association and the Associated Collegiate Press. Some of those awards that the paper and staff have gathered over the years include Overall Best Newspaper in 2004, and in 2009, Marc Beja and Adam Playford won 1st place in the category of Best News Story and were recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.
Year Founded: 1973
The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University
The Commonwealth Times is published once every week and distributed around campus and throughout the surrounding community of Richmond, Virginia. The current circulation is about 3,000. The CT, as the paper is typically referred to, has been in publication since 1969. The entire operation of the paper, from advertising to production, is the responsibility of students. There is no oversight by Virginia Commonwealth University, making The CT completely independent and it has been this way since just a year after it started. Coverage includes sports, the arts, local news and national news, and student life. The paper also features opinions and comics.
Apart from its full independence from the university, this paper has won several impressive accolades over the years. Most notably, the Society of Professional Journalists awarded The CT first place in Breaking News Photography back in 2011, along with several awards in editorial cartooning. In the year 2016, The CT won nine awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, nine awards from the Virginia Press Association, and took home one award from the Hearst Awards. For a paper with a comparatively small circulation, the staff genuinely shine through with their dedication to quality journalism.
Year Founded: 1969
The Daily Mississippian, University of Mississippi
The Daily Mississippian has a massive circulation of 13,500. It has regularly been published since 1911 and has established itself as one of the most impressive newspapers in the country for several reasons. Some sources trace it back to 1877 although it was operating under a different name at that time. This school newspaper, commonly nicknamed The DM, is also student-run and operated independently; however, the Director of Student Media does report to the Dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.
There are several things that set this college paper apart. It is the only college newspaper in the state that is published so frequently, hitting the stands five times a week. It has one of the largest circulations among college papers in the country, and the paper’s website is the most visited website associated with the University of Mississippi. It is one of few college publications and the only one in Mississippi that is a full member of the state press association. Because of that association, The Daily Mississippian competes in the Mississippi Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest against professional daily newspapers.
Year Founded: 1911
The Pitt News, University of Pittsburgh
Founded in 1910, The Pitt News has been the student news source for the University of Pittsburgh for over a century now. It is typically published five days a week, Monday through Friday, during the regular school year and only on Wednesdays throughout the summer. Circulation throughout the summer is still incredible, only dropping down to 10,000. The paper includes five regular sections which are News, Opinions, Arts & Entertainment, Sports, and Classifieds. Several unique issues are published during the year as well, serving as guides to students on Dining, Renting, and finding Employment.
Something unique about The Pitt News is that it is overseen by an advisory board consisting of the editor in chief, the business manager, two other Pitt News employees, at least one non-Pitt News student at the University, local journalists, University journalism and business professors, and area businesspeople. This advisory board is written into the constitution of the paper to help it serve its goal of being a high-quality newspaper and a voice for the University of Pittsburgh student body. One of the most impressive things about The Pitt News is that an independent study conducted showed that 90% of all Pitt students read the paper!
Year Founded: 1910
The Daily Gamecock, University of South Carolina
The Daily Gamecock is the college newspaper that serves the University of South Carolina and has been in operation since 1905. It is an independent daily student news organization that primarily serves the main campus of the University of South Carolina System which is located in Columbia, South Carolina. It has a circulation of 10,000 per week, publishing every Monday and Thursday. It began publishing daily in 2006 but would later stop in 2016 because of decreased paper readership and an increase of online readership. Now, it publishes twice weekly throughout the school year, nine times over summer, and not at all during holidays or exams. The website features more significant stories and doesn’t publish according to any set schedule.
There are several things that make this paper very impressive. In a ranking published by the Princeton Review, this college newspaper was ranked as one of the top in the country for the year 2011 and 2013. Over the years, The Daily Gamecock has won several South Carolina Press Association awards, was a finalist for the National Pacemaker Awards for the Associated Collegiate Press in 1999, won 31 SCPA awards in the year 2013 alone. At the 2007 Southern University Newspaper Conference, the paper won 11 awards including the Sun Newspaper of the Year Award. The South Carolina Press Association awarded the paper with first place in General Excellence in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. It also is one of the few papers that also has a podcast.
Year Founded: 1908
The Chronicle, Duke University
The Chronicle is just as highly regarded as the university it serves, which is Duke University. Circulation of this paper is 30,000, and there is an online readership of 70,000. This is one of the most widely read and highly respected college papers across America. The Chronicle hits the stands every Monday through Thursday throughout the academic year and hits the net on Fridays. This college newspaper has a budget that exceeds $1 million annually and employs a staff of 120 students in total. The Chronicle operates independently and has done so since breaking its formal ties with the university back in 1993.
While the reputation, countless awards, national readership, large budget, and huge staff of students all come together and make this paper impressive, there is one fact about it that is extremely interesting. The school paper was first published by Duke’s predecessor Trinity College in 1905, making The Chronicle officially older than Duke University, which was established in 1924.
Year Founded: 1905
The Bucknellian, Bucknell University
The Bucknellian is the student newspaper of Bucknell University, and it publishes every week on Friday, or 12 times per semester, with a circulation of 2,000. The paper covers local and national news, focusing on stories that are directly relevant to the student today. There are also opinion pieces, sports coverage, and features on student achievements at the university. Students are entirely in charge of every aspect of the paper, including the online version and the official social media accounts of the paper.
There are currently 18 students on staff at The Bucknellian. The paper has won a variety of awards throughout its history, most recently at the 2015 Keystone Press Awards, the paper won first place for Julian Dorey’s column, Beyond the Bison. What makes The Bucknellian impressive is that its readership is larger than the student body and that it was first printed in 1896 which makes it one of the inaugural student activities at Bucknell University.
Year Founded: 1896
The Johns Hopkins News-Letter, Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins News-Letter is the college newspaper that serves Johns Hopkins University. It features the sections News, Opinion, Voices, Arts, SciTech, Sports, Your Weekend, and Multimedia. There’s a current circulation over 5,000. The News-Letter also publishes four magazines each year in addition to its regular papers weekly on Thursday. The newspaper is independent of the university and prides itself on being ‘the voice of undergraduate students’ at JHU. The Voices section invites students to publish articles on things that they’d like to talk about. Multimedia features surveys and photo essays. In the Your Weekend section, events around the city and reviews of local restaurants and attractions are published. The dedication to serving the student body to the fullest that this paper shows is impressive.
Along with that, its age is impressive. The Johns Hopkins News-Letter is the oldest weekly college newspaper in America. The paper received an Associated Collegiate Press Newspaper Pacemaker award in 2015, 2013, 2008, 2005, 2003, and 1995; it was a finalist for the award in 2010, 2007, and 1997. Two former staff members have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize. Perhaps the coolest thing about The News-Letter is that student publications were initially prohibited by the Board of Trustees when JHU was founded in 1876, and despite that, the paper began in 1896 and has maintained the same moniker throughout its entire operation.
Year Founded: 1896
The Daily Tar Heel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Daily Tar Heel was founded in 1893 which, of course, makes it one of the oldest college papers in America. The primary focus of the paper is university news and sports, but the DTH also covers the surrounding areas of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Chatham, and Durham. Like most other college papers, it is wholly independent and student-run; the staff includes three full-time professionals, roughly 80 paid part-time students, and more than 150 student volunteer writers. The DTH has a circulation of 10,000, and its website draws over 11,000 visitors every day. The estimated total readership is over 38,000.
There are plenty of things that make The Daily Tar Heel outstanding. It was named the best college newspaper by The Princeton Review in 2007 and 2011 and among the top five in 2010, 2012, and 2013. It has won almost 20 National Pacemaker Awards from the Associated Collegiate Press. It is also the recipient of National Mark of Excellence Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, has been recognized by the North Carolina Press Association for its photography, news writing, and design, and boasts over 20 first-place advertising awards in its division. It was the first college newspaper in North Carolina to earn a general excellence award and has also placed first for its higher education reporting. On top of all of that, it is the most widely read newspaper in its county.
Year Founded: 1893
The Red and Black, University of Georgia
The Red and Black is an independent student newspaper operated by students of the University of Georgia. It currently publishes once per week and updates online every day; it has a circulation of 10,000. The first issue was published in 1893. The newspaper is entirely controlled by students and has a staff of over 70 that fulfill all the responsibilities like writing, advertising, production, and more. The paper is also financially independent from the university and self-sustains through its advertising. The Red and Black is the largest college newspaper in Georgia and boasts a readership of well over 45,000. The paper covers local and national news, sports, and more. It also features a multimedia section with photos, podcasts, and videos.
The impressive thing about The Red & Black is that its history is steeped in controversy. Two years after the first edition was published, UGA faculty ordered publication of the paper to be stopped. It came back next fall under independent operation but was so successful that the university took back its control in 1896. Control of the paper at that time was handled by the Athletic Association and then was passed over to the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The paper broke free once again in 1980 and has remained independent. In 2012, there was a massive staff walk out with everyone resigning to protest non-student employees that were hired in. After a few days, the board heard and acted on the demands of the students and the staff returned. The paper is also a six-time winner of the Pacemaker Award; it won the online variation of the award in 2010, and the newspaper variation in 2010, 1972, 1941, 1937, and 1935.
Year Founded: 1893
The Kentucky Kernel, University of Kentucky
The first college newspaper to be published at the University of Kentucky began in 1892. The official first edition of The Kentucky Kernel was released in 1915. Today, The Kernel is published Monday through Friday during the school year and once a week during the summer. Conflicting sources say that the paper has a circulation of either 15,000 or 8,000; the paper’s website says 8,000. The Kernel has an incredible readership of over 30,000. The newspaper has been editorially and financially independent from the university since 1972 and is funded through advertising. Online, it is updated every day.
Although the paper has a staff of under 20 students published on their website, it is still one of the most impressive papers in the nation. It has received the National Pacemaker Award from the Associated Collegiate Press three times in the years 2015, 2008, and 2006. About 150 days out of the calendar year, an edition of the Kernel is published, and it offers the most in-depth coverage of the Lexington campus and surrounding metropolitan area. Former staff includes Disney writer and illustrator Don Rosa, Associated Press Chief White House Correspondent Terence Hunt, former National Geographic photographer Sam Abell, and more. The Kentucky Kernel is the most widely read newspaper in all of Kentucky.
Year Founded: 1892
The Iowa State Daily, Iowa State University
The Iowa State Daily Media Group is an independent, student-run, non-profit organization that publishes The Iowa State Daily at Iowa State University. During the school year, The Daily is published Monday through Friday and has a circulation of 12,500 and was released once per week during the summers until the year 2017, since that time, it has only published news online when school is not in session. At its inception, the paper was created without any support from the college or college officials. The primary goal of the paper is to serve the students, faculty, and alumni as the most comprehensive source for all university news, sports, and entertainment, as well as significant state and national news.
The Daily’s website covers all of the news featured in the print edition, keeps up with the stocks in real-time, and has also started publishing an e-newsletter for students. The Daily is also currently planning and working on the implementation of additional e-newsletters for ISU staff and alumni. One of the most impressive pieces of trivia about The Iowa State Daily is that it has a huge team, employing more than 200 Iowa State University students over the course of a year.
Year Founded: 1890
The Exponent, Purdue University
The Exponent is the college newspaper that serves Purdue University in Indiana. The paper publishes twice weekly on Monday and Thursday with a circulation of 17,500, making it the largest on this list, the largest college newspaper in Indiana, and among the largest college newspapers in the country. The paper was founded in 1889 and became daily in 1906. It was published every day for over one hundred years up until 2016. It has been twice-weekly ever since. The Exponent is run by seven full-time professionals, relying on a staff of approximately 80 students for most of the operation; it is entirely independent of the university.
Some of the impressive things about The Exponent are that is has such a large circulation and readership and that it has been entirely student-run throughout its entire history. It has never been supported by the university nor relied on it financially. Something else that stands out is that Purdue University does not have a journalism school but still has an incredibly successful college newspaper. Alumni have gone on to win six Pulitzers, four Emmys and one Oscar awards, meaning that it has one of the most highly awarded former staff out of all student publications.
Year Founded: 1889
The Lantern, Ohio State University
The Lantern was originally chartered in 1881 and became part of the Ohio State University School of Journalism in 1914. It is published Monday through Friday during the school year, with online editions being published every Friday. During the summer, the online version is still available on Fridays. The Lantern has a circulation of 15,000 which makes it one of the largest college papers in the country. The business aspects of the newspaper are operated by 15 full-time employees and 5-7 student account executives responsible for advertising sales. The other staff, including 14 editors and assistant editors, are paid workers that serve The Lantern for two semesters. Any students who are taking the Lantern practicum class as part of their academic program aren’t paid.
What’s impressive about The Lantern is that the newspaper doesn’t shy away from controversy. National attention was drawn to the paper when it reported that members of the OSU football team were selling memorabilia back in 2011; the head coach at the time, Jim Tressel, ended up choosing to resign. The year prior, in 2010, two cows escaped the Veterinary Hospital on campus. The Lantern was at the center of controversy again when one of the reporters refused to leave the area when ordered by police who had to be called to help control the situation. The School of Communication, as well as several other journalism outlets, protested his subsequent arrest; he was never charged. Another thing that is so impressive about the paper is that at one time it had a readership of 75,000.
Year Founded: 1881
The Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Tech is the college newspaper serving the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The current circulation is 8,000, but the paper boasts a print readership of over 20,000. Physical editions hit the stands every Thursday throughout the school year except in January, when it publishes on Wednesdays; during summer, papers are released once a month. The paper was first published back in 1881, and it is the oldest and largest student publication at the college. The Tech is financially independent of MIT and operates on money generated from advertising and donations received. The staff is comprised primarily of student volunteers and a handful of alumni but, there is an advisory board of former staff and alumni as well.
Every edition of The Tech is published online, and the website is updated with additional news on a regular basis. Readers have the choice of browsing the site or viewing a pdf file of the paper. It covers the sections of News, Opinion, Arts, Sports, and Campus Life. Online, and Blogs can be read at the website. Along with how long-running The Tech is, the most impressive thing about this newspaper shouldn’t shock anyone who is familiar with the history and reputation of MIT: The Tech was the first college newspaper ever to be published online, with digital editions available as far back as 1993.
Year Founded: 1881
The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell University
The Cornell Daily Sun is the newspaper that serves Cornell University. It prints its tabloid-sized editions every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday while school is in session, circulation is 16,000. There are a few full-time hired employees that work in production and business positions; apart from those employees, The Sun is entirely student-run. It is wholly independent of the university, and it claims to the be the oldest continuously independent college newspaper in the country. It began publishing in 1880 to challenge the existing publication at Cornell, which was called Cornell Era. Every edition is also available online.
In addition to the typical sections of News, Opinion, Sports, and more, there are some unique features of The Sun. There is a sex column published on Thursdays, along with recipes and restaurant reviews as well. The impressive things about The Cornell Daily Sun start with its impressive former staff members, including Emmy-award winners, current reporters for some of the largest news publications in the United States, and renowned novelist Kurt Vonnegut. The Princeton Review has named this as the top college newspaper in America.
Year Founded: 1880
The Minnesota Daily, University of Minnesota
The Minnesota Daily is the media organization and newspaper that serves the University of Minnesota. It operates independently from the university but is registered as and considers itself a student organization. While it does have a general manager and a Board of Directors, the newspaper is entirely student-run. The Daily typically publishes on Mondays and Thursdays, following this schedule during the fall and spring semesters. Over summer, it is published every Wednesday. During its typical schedule, circulation is 10,000. The paper has a staff of 150 people and serves as an important education tool for those students, providing hands-on training in journalism, multimedia, photography, finance, marketing, human resources, information systems, and more.
The paper was first established in 1877 in the form of a literary magazine called The Ariel. It took on its current moniker in 1900 and started publishing every day. It prides itself on being at the forefront of technological advancement for the university. It was one of the first few college newspapers to be published online, with some sources saying that it was on the net back in 1990. The Daily is particularly impressive for the long list of awards and accolades it has received over the years. It has won 12 first place awards from the Associated College Press, along with an additional 11 awards and honorable mentions. The College Newspaper Business and Advertising Managers have awarded the paper eight different times; it has received 3 Pacemakers from the Society of Professional Journalists for ‘Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper’ along with 14 other marks of excellence.
Year Founded: 1877
The Daily Princetonian, Princeton University
The Daily Princetonian is the daily newspaper at Princeton University. It first started publishing in 1876 but moved to daily publication in 1892. It was one of the first few college newspapers in the country to publish on a daily basis. Circulation of the paper is comparatively small at 2,000; there are about 5,000 estimated readers. Nicknamed The Prince, the newspaper is completely independent of the university and supports itself through advertisements rather than receiving money from the university or alumni donations. There is a graduate Board of Trustees made up of former staff members, but the paper is produced by its staff of roughly 200 undergraduate Princeton students. None of the staff members are paid.
Part of what’s impressive about The Prince is some of the former staff, which includes Woodrow Wilson, John D. Rockefeller III, and plenty of alumni who have gone on to work for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as win the Pulitzer Prize. Also, in addition to its print and online newspaper, The Daily Princetonian also publishes a news blog (The Prox), an arts and entertainment blog (Intersections), and hosts The Daily Princetonian Photo Store where high-quality photos of campus life can be purchased.
Year Founded: 1876
The Harvard Crimson, Harvard University
The Harvard Crimson is the student newspaper at the world-renowned Harvard University. It is the only newspaper in Cambridge, Massachusetts that publishes every day. The staff is made up of undergraduate students, who have access to an additional financial aid program that was started in the 90’s to address a lack of diversity among the staff. There are some non-student staff members that have been part of the paper for several years. The Crimson is published every Monday through Friday during the academic year and features two special sections each week. On Tuesdays, there is an arts section, and on Thursdays, there is a magazine called Fifteen Minutes.
The Harvard Crimson has just as rich a history as the university it serves. It is the only daily newspaper in its area, with a circulation of 5,000. It is one of the only college newspapers that owns its own printing presses as opposed to relying on an outside organization; it also allows other publications to pay for their printing to be done at The Crimson. It has been the first source to break the news of several important Harvard happenings. Most notably, though, is that many journalists, government officials, and academics have been editors over the years. Two that you may be familiar with are John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Year Founded: 1873
The Brown Daily Herald, Brown University
The Brown Daily Herald is the college newspaper at Brown University. It publishes every Monday through Friday during the school year as well as special editions for commencement and orientation; the circulation is currently 2,500. The Herald is the second-oldest college newspaper among college dailies in America. The paper is completely independent of the university both financially and editorially. It employs over 230 volunteers who work as editors, business managers, reporters, designers, photographers, and artists. The paper is overseen by a Board of Directors that includes two editorial staffers, two business staffers and five alumni of the Herald.
Apart from being the second-oldest college daily, there are several things about The Brown Daily Herald that are impressive. It has one of the largest staffs among college newspapers. The paper also publishes the BlogDailyHerald which is a student-run blog that keeps up with local events and offers fun distractions for students; and the magazine Post-, which is a weekly arts and culture magazine available every Friday in print and online. The paper was published for the first time in 1891. The most interesting tidbit about the history of The Herald is that it was planned entirely in secret and there was no announcement before the first edition was distributed outside every dorm on December 2nd in 1891.
Year Founded: 1891