I can think of a few “professional” news organizations that could use this kind of rehabilitation.

Greg Piper of the College Fix has the story.

In The Throes Of Death Two Years Ago, College Paper Now Nabs Awards, Profits

Washington State University’s Daily Evergreen was on the verge of dying two years ago. It had been bleeding money for a decade when Candace Baltz joined as student media director in August 2012.

Now the paper is “turning a profit, swimming in awards and laying the groundwork for some bold expansion and innovation efforts,” College Media Matters says, interviewing Baltz for its “College Media Geeks” series.

“There was less than a month’s operating budget in reserve” at that time, Baltz told the college media blog.

So how did it turn around?

Baltz, a former TV reporter, shares some insights, and not just boring business stuff like overhauled rate cards:

We didn’t have the funds to send students to conferences for training, so we invited our alumni to help with weekend workshops. The Evergreen alumni volunteered their time, paid their own travel expenses and spent days getting to know the students, encouraging them and brainstorming with them. Those alumni workshops were extremely popular — standing room only. They motivated the staff, and gave students the tools they needed to roll up their sleeves and recommit to serving the campus community through better and more inclusive coverage, as well as taking on an in-depth series on social issues each semester. [emphasis added]

Her advice for the grown-ups managing these student newsrooms includes:

  • Keep a drawer filled with emergency, non-perishable food.
  • Any time students ask for your attention, make sure it’s undivided.
  • Be their toughest critic and their biggest advocate.
  • Hold them to professional standards. They’re not there to learn how to be great student journalists. They’re there to learn to be great journalists.
  • Bring donuts on Fridays. Mostly maple bars. It brings the students into the office on a non-production day, gets them in early for best donut selection and allows them to bond, plan and evaluate without the usual deadline pressure.