Server crash shows value of student media

By Amethyst Martinez & Jake Tiger

Over  winter break, 107.7 The Bronc and The Rider News both lost a valuable chronicle of not only the student organizations, but the university as a whole. A university server, where both of the organizations’ websites were held, suddenly failed, taking all of the content along with it.

For The Rider News, articles on the website dated back to at least 2011. For the radio station, 56% of listeners come from their site, according John Mozes, director of 107.7 The Bronc. 

The shutdown of the server has caused mass uncertainty on not only what can be brought back, but also, how much valuable content was lost. 

Both websites, and, had to be rebuilt because of the server failure. 

Our student publication’s website being reset resulted in the loss of a multitude of online-only articles and photo galleries that possibly cannot be recovered, according to Rider’s former webmaster Alye Ancianis, who was contracted by the school to rebuild the student media websites. There is no way to tell how many are truly gone forever. 

Both The Rider News and 107.7 The Bronc are immensely grateful for the university’s efforts in rebuilding our websites before the spring semester, reuploading almost all of the radio station’s website’s content, and uploading some of The Rider News’ most recent content.

Now, both of the websites are within compliance of the Americans with Disabilities Act for the first time in its history. 

Despite this silver lining, the server failure affected The Rider News and its student workers in ways that could have harmful, long-term ramifications on their careers in journalism.

Our website was down while many prestigious internship deadlines approached, and our journalists had to quickly figure out alternative solutions that could compromise their chances at precious opportunities in a competitive field. We are all hoping that employers will be understanding of our situation, but the inconvenience posed by our workarounds certainly did not increase any of our chances at landing crucial summer internships. 

For 107.7 The Bronc, the crash came just after being nominated for eight Intercollegiate Broadcasting Systems awards. 

The Rider News was also in the middle of submitting articles for regional collegiate journalism awards, which caused major disruptions for student workers who wanted to nominate stories, photos, videos and graphic designs. If not for the print edition of The Rider News, they would not have been able to submit anything.

When it came to online-only content, writers and staff members had no choice but to completely pivot to other articles for submission that were perhaps weaker and brought down the quality of their application. There is still no guarantee that all our online-only content will be brought back. Some articles and all photo galleries were not archived and lost forever.

Similarly, multiple Rider alumni and former Rider News staff members reached out while the server was down asking where their work had gone, as they were hoping to submit it for graduate degree portfolios and to potential employers.

Among the lost online-only content was The Rider News’ coverage of important events at Rider that occurred over the winter and summer breaks, from yearly winter basketball coverage to university personnel changes over the summer.

Additionally, The Rider News traditionally publishes online-only articles of Rider’s men’s and women’s basketball teams over winter break, and the sports editors are paid for their coverage and work on the stories. Without a website, the usual winter basketball coverage was impossible this year, and staff could not receive pay that they otherwise could have counted on.

The Rider News publishes online-only content nearly every week, as all content that does not fit onto the 12-page print edition are posted digitally. As a result, some contributors had a significant amount of their writing catalog wiped from the internet, robbing them of well-earned legitimacy and convenience. 

Rather than using links to our website, writers and staff members had to apply for internships with screenshots and PDFs of articles in the print edition of The Rider News, which are far less conducive to reading on digital screens. We are all hoping that employers will be understanding of our situation, but the inconvenience posed by our workarounds certainly did not increase any of our chances at landing crucial summer internships.

This also shows how critical both the print and digital editions of The Rider News are – without the print edition to reference, we may not have been able to retrieve anything. 

We have learned our lesson. Going forward, The Rider News will ensure it is better prepared for server failures and similar mishaps. This lesson, however, shows not only the importance of student media on campus, but also the chronicle that we keep of the university.

It is up to The Rider News and 107.7 The Bronc’s student workers, along with the university, to keep student media alive at Rider. Without these organizations, Rider loses incredibly valuable work that shows what we have learned at the university. Attending an institution with engaged learning at the forefront of our education distinguishes it from other schools. 

Years of content may be permanently lost as a result of the crash. In the future, it is critical that student media organizations and the university work together to prepare for these events and ensure that resources like the print edition of The Rider News are preserved, because they contain valuable student experiences and the history of Rider as a whole.

This editorial reflects the opinion of The Rider News editorial board

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