Bill O’Reilly, Ernie Boch Jr. help save BU student newspaper
Bolstered by large gifts from high-profile donors, Boston University’s student-run newspaper has raised more than the $70,000 it needed to save its weekly print edition, the publication announced Wednesday.
The Daily Free Press received $50,000 from local car dealer Ernie Boch Jr.; $10,000 from Fox News TV host Bill O’Reilly, an alumnus of BU who had worked at the paper; and nearly 300 smaller contributions that totaled more than $17,800, and were raised through an online campaign, according to editor in chief Kyle Plantz.
“We’re extremely happy and just feel so lucky for the support,” Plantz said by telephone. “I’m still completely shocked that it took literally two days.”
The 44-year-old newspaper announced Monday that unless it could raise enough money to pay back a large portion of its nearly $70,000 in debts by the end of December, it would have to stop publishing its print edition, which had shifted to a weekly schedule this fall to cut costs. The independent student news venture, nicknamed the Freep, launched an online campaign via a crowdfunding website, www.gofundme.com. Smaller contributions came from other alumni of the paper and from the university’s journalism professors.
Plantz said a check from O’Reilly arrived Wednesday. Staff at the newspaper received a call Tuesday from O’Reilly, who explained why he was making the donation.
“As a former Freep-er, he got his start here and he remembers his time at the Freep,” Plantz said.
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Boch, Peggy Rose, reached out to newspaper staff and told them about his donation. In a statement, Boch, who was traveling, said newspapers “at the local, regional, daily, and, yes, collegiate level are all vital parts of our democracy.”
“A vibrant newspaper ensures for a free exchange of ideas and Boston University’s independent student-run newspaper, The Daily Free Press, should continue to have that opportunity for its readers,” said Boch, who last year expressed interest in buying the Globe.
Last spring, the Free Press announced it would publish a print edition only once a week, while shifting to a digital-first model that posted content daily on its website, www.dailyfreepress.com, which recently underwent a makeover.
Plantz said he was not sure yet what the newspaper will do with the excess money it receives.