Rupert Murdoch is giving college newspapers their own media empire

Print’s not dead yet.
Print’s not dead yet.
Image: Reuters/Mark Makela
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Of all the cultural shakeups brought on by the election of Donald Trump, one of the most auspicious—to the media world, at least—has been the surge of interest in college journalism. Students on both ends of the political spectrum are turning more attention to campus newspapers than they have in decades. They’re also organizing protests and support groups, writing and publishing op-eds, and showing renewed interest in academic journalism programs. Columbia even used Trump’s repeated attacks on “the media” to justify its J-school’s $100,000 price tag.

Screenshot / The Tab
Screenshot / The Tab

Given all this, it’s quite an opportune time for the arrival of Tab Media, a new publication, backed by Rupert Murdoch and a handful of other sponsors, that is trying to bring together a national network of student journalists under one media brand.

A British export, the Tab was founded by Cambridge graduates in 2009 and just recently made its way across the Atlantic—with special thanks to a $6 million round of financing that it completed this month, led mainly by Murdoch’s News Corp. The news site currently has outlets at a few dozen schools, including all eight Ivy League universities, and plans to expand to 100 other US campuses. It has about 10 million monthly visitors, and makes most of its money from sponsored stories and advertising.

“The mindset we’re looking for is super hungry, anti-establishment, and a little subversive,” Josh Herrmann, the Tab’s editor-in-chief, said in an interview (paywall) with the New York Times—which also took a moment to point out that Herrmann, at 28, is the “office elder” of the operation. Another founder, Jack Rivlin, said he envisions the publication as an MTV-like, generation-defining brand.

Thus far, stories from the site have stayed fairly local—with student authors writing mostly about goings-on relevant to their own campuses. Still, the Tab marks the first time that college journalists have been able to contribute to an overarching network, though a similar idea has been attempted by the Huffington Post, which solicits op-eds from students around the country.

Coincidentally, Snapchat this week announced a partnership with several student newspapers that will put student journalists’ stories on its Discover feature, alongside content from publishers like the New York Times and CNN. All this is to say: For college students, it’s a good time to want to be a reporter.