The Daily Free Press is the independent student newspaper at Boston University. It is a digital-first publication with daily online content and a weekly print edition on Thursday during the academic year. The Daily Free Press is staffed by about 100 volunteer editors, writers, reporters and photographers. The editorial positions change on a semester-to-semester basis. The paper is governed by a board of former editors, who make up the Board of Directors of Back Bay Publishing Co., Inc., a Massachusetts non-profit.
Commonly called the FreeP, The Daily Free Press began publishing May 5, 1970 in response to violent student protests on campus in the wake of the Kent State shootings. In the early 21st century, it is the longest-running, continuous publication at BU.
Until February 13, 2009, The Daily Free Press had published an issue every instructional day since its formation. Given increasingly tight finances for newspapers and declining advertising revenue, the paper decided to discontinue its Friday issue. As of September 2011, circulation was 5,000 issues per day, Monday through Thursday.
This publishing schedule continued until September 2014, when the paper decided to switch to a daily online, weekly print publishing model. This action was intended to allow the newsroom to shift focus to a digital audience while maintaining a print presence. The weekly print edition circulates 5,000 issues each Thursday of the academic year.
The Daily Free Press has won numerous awards for its reporting, including the Columbia Press Association's Gold Medal Award for Excellence. In 2016, it was awarded Best All-Around Non-Daily Newspaper for Region 1 (Society of Professional Journalists) and First Runner-Up for College Newspaper of the Year (New England Newspaper & Press Association), each for its 2015 editorial year.
The paper covers campus news and sports, local (Boston-area) news and publishes editorials, columns and letters each day. Every issue has a daily crossword puzzle. The Daily Free Press also has four sub-sections within its features department, each of which has its own space in the print edition each week.
In January 1980, its Arts and Entertainment coverage became The Muse, the FreeP's weekly A&E publication. Muse is now featured online on both Mondays and Fridays. Science Tuesday began in the 1990s and was rebranded as Catalyst in 2015, following the paper's shift to daily, digital-first content. The features department also includes InBusiness, which covers emerging businesses and includes general business reporting, and Impact, which focuses on human-interest stories. All four sub-sections are featured in the FreeP’s print edition, except for special issues.
The FreeP began publishing a news, arts and opinion blog in 2011, called The Daily Free Now, online at blog.dailyfreepress.com. The blog was rebranded during the FreeP’s digital-first transition.
The editorial staff of the FreeP is strictly volunteer. All writers, photographers and business staffers are BU students, with the exception of the office manager. Members of the editorial board work nights to put out the paper and regularly work 50 hours per week, in addition to their classes.
Many alumni editors have continued to have careers in journalism, television and film. Several alumni have won the Pulitzer Prize (see below).
Since January 1996, The Daily Free Press has also been published online at dailyfreepress.com every day that the print publication is distributed. Beginning in September 2014, the website became the publication's primary daily publishing platform, as it switched to a weekly print model. In addition to the daily online content published five days per week, The Daily Free Press publishes breaking news and sports updates as they unfold, often on weekends or outside of the academic calendar. The most recent online readership figures are an average 50,000-70,000 monthly user sessions and 150,000-250,000 monthly page views.
The Daily Free Press also shares stories and news updates on various social media platforms. It has more than 2,000 likes on Facebook, more than 8,000 followers on Twitter, and more than 500 followers on Instagram.
In 2011, Back Bay Publishing Co., Inc., the governing body of The Daily Free Press, announced that it had paid off a $78,000 debt to its printers Turley Publications, Inc. by way of an advertising advance from the Boston University Dean of Students office. The company had discontinued Friday editions in 2009 to reduce publishing costs. There were concerns about the paper's independence in the wake of the financial announcement, but the paper continues to be entirely student-run. The university exercises no control over its content. In 2014, Back Bay Publishing Co., Inc. announced that The Daily Free Press had paid off approximately $70,000 in debt, with monies raised in a crowd funding campaign. Significant donations from Bill O'Reilly and Ernie Boch, Jr., along with several donations from alumni, family and friends, helped the newspaper raise a surplus of funds within a two-day period.David Barboza, a Beijing-based correspondent at The New York Times;
Jim Bourg, Photographer/Photo Editor, Reuters
Mark Cardwell, Managing Editor, Digital Media, The Denver Post
Andrew Cohen, Denver-based lawyer and the CBS News legal affairs correspondent;
James Daly, Journalist (Wired, Forbes, Rolling Stone), Entrepreneur (Business 2.0, TED, Edutopia), Frequently both.
Gabriel Donio, owner and publisher of The Hammonton Gazette
Ian Donnis, an editor and media critic at The Providence Phoenix;
Bruce Feirstein, an author, magazine writer and screenwriter;
Ian Fisher, the Rome correspondent at The New York Times;
Dan Forst, Staff writer at San Francisco Chronicle (now freelance)
David Wainer, Israel-based correspondent for Bloomberg News
Steve Gelsi, reporter at CBSMarketWatch.
Larry Hackett, managing editor, People magazine
Joseph T. Hallinan, an author and 1991 Pulitzer Prize-winner for work done at the Indianapolis Star, currently reporter with the Wall Street Journal ;
Ray Henry, reporter, Associated Press
Gerald Herbert, staff photographer, Associated Press
Matthew Horovitz, television producer;
Vivian Ho, San Francisco Chronicle
Kenneth Irby, photographer, Group Leader & Diversity Director, The Poynter Institute.
Jeff Kline, an award-winning producer of children's TV programs;
Larry Lebowitz, reporter, The Miami Herald
Mike Mokrzycki, independent consultant/manager of election polling, NBC News; former director of polling, The Associated Press
Bill O'Reilly, journalist and television personality;
Don Van Natta, Jr., author and member of The New York Times staff; received the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 & 2002;
Jessica Van Sack, chief enterprise reporter, the Boston Herald
Chris Nagi, managing editor, Bloomberg News
Onell R. Soto, part of Pulitzer Prize-winning team at The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Lisa Anne Auerbach, artist and American travel writers.
Narendra Nandoe, Chief of the publishing Section at the United Nations in New York.
Elizabeth Weinberg, award-winning editorial and commercial freelance photographer
The Daily Free Press also publishes 'The Boston Hockey Blog', which covers the Boston University men’s hockey team. The website publishes game recaps, commentary and live blogs. The Boston Hockey Blog reports on breaking news events related to the hockey teams, especially as it relates to players committing to Boston University or moving to other teams.
Back Bay Publishing Co., Inc., is a nonprofit Massachusetts corporation operated by Boston University students. It publishes the student paper The Daily Free Press.