Although its history is brief, Boise State Student Media departments The Arbiter and University Pulse have been producing content since the years when Boise State was a junior college. The Arbiter has had different names since its conception, including University News and the BJC Roundup.
Both departments have seen their fair share of publicity behind the scenes.
The idea to merge The Arbiter and University Pulse first came around 2000, when director of Student Media Brad Arendt saw that the landscape for news producers was changing due to the use of technology like the Internet.
Student Media at Boise State is regarded highly around the nation for its use of technology in producing news.
“We started podcasting not too long after it was invented,” Arendt said. “We also had online video before many news organizations.”
In 2007 the merge finally came. Both departments experienced large cuts in funding to make the transition possible.
Just a year later, Arendt was fighting to keep the newspaper afloat in the midst of a recession.
“It was a big enough threat that it was the one time in my career I had to really look for another job,” he said. “Not because I wanted to, because I was worried there may not be funding to continue.”
In 2008 Boise State University made the decision to support Student Media with an increase in funds.
Like many college papers and student media groups, The Arbiter and University Pulse receive a portion of their funding from the university. Their content is still considered independent, however, because of their ability to investigate administrators and staff at Boise State without fear of being censored or shut down.
This independence comes at a cost. Because Student Media acts apart from Boise State—content producers cannot be protected by the school when it comes to legal issues.
“If you screw up writing a story for us, you can personally be sued,” Arendt said.
In matters like these, students can, however, turn to the Student Press Law Center.
Students at The Arbiter and University Pulse produce their own content and decide what will run in each issue or program.
Because of this, they have ample opportunity to make mistakes. According to Arendt, this is a good thing.
“We operate one of the biggest learning labs on campus,” he said. “Part of the learning experience is making mistakes.”
In the 17 years that Arendt has worked at The Arbiter, he has seen many students grow and develop. Although he feels media these days isn’t doing the job it’s supposed to, Arendt believes the students who leave Student Media will continue to practice good journalism.
“I see students coming through who are tired of it, who just want to go out and get the truth of things,” Arendt said.