Boston University Student Newspaper Raises $70,000 in Two Days

Thanks to Ernie Boch, Jr., and Bill O'Reilly, The Daily Free Press will live on.

Image via GoFundMe/DailyFreePress

Image via GoFundMe/DailyFreePress

Bill O’Reilly finally did something that the general public can collectively applaud: he reportedly pledged to donate $10,000 to help save Boston University’s student-run newspaper from losing their print edition.

Just two days after Kyle Plantz, editor-in-chief of The Daily Free Press, put out a plea asking people to rally around the independently operated news organization, which was at risk of going out of print due to the mounting debt accumulated over the years, hundreds of people started chipping in funds. On a page, the paper managed to raise nearly $19,000 in 48 hours from various donors.

Then, on Wednesday, two big “investors” stepped up to the plate to help put the paper’s fundraising goal over the edge.

An update on the GoFundMe page claims that Ernie Boch, Jr., a local philanthropist and car dealership owner known for his catchy commercials, promised to hand over a whopping $50,000 for the cause.

At the same time, O’Reilly, a political commentator and host of the oft controversial “O’Reilly Factor,” also assisted in the bail out, in the amount of $10,000. “This is a complete shock,” Plantz told Boston. “We are very shocked by how fast this happened.”

On Monday, Plantz had announced that Turley Publications, the company that prints the weekly papers for the student organization, was threatening to cease production unless the FreeP, as it’s more casually known around campus, cleared away its debt.

Plantz said as money started coming in they received messages from Boch’s publicist, who informed the paper’s board of directors that he wanted to make a sizeable donation. “That was just incredible, especially someone that’s not involved with BU at all,” said Plantz. “It’s just amazing that someone like him would want to contribute.”

A day prior, O’Reilly reached out to the students to let them know a check from him was in the mail. “We had hoped that if we got the fundraiser to be big enough it would get the word out. We had a feeling that maybe he might come around,” said Plantz. O’Reilly is a BU alumnus who got his start at the student newspaper.

On their fundraising page, the newspaper’s staff promised to sing songs and take supporters out to dinner if they were willing enough to put $10,000 or more toward the cause. After both O’Reilly and Boch accepted the challenge, Plantz said the students running the paper would stick to their word.

“We did say we would do singing, so as a board we will have to figure out what harmonies they can do and what songs they will sing,” he said. “If they want us to take them to dinner, we are happy to do that.”

Plantz said there’s a chance Boch will stop by the FreeP‘s offices when he returns from a business trip. He said it’s possible that O’Reilly would also make a guest appearance, but he wasn’t sure when.

“We will see what happens with that,” he said. “If he wants to stop by, I’m down to clean the office and he can come by.”

With the money raised and then-some, the organizers behind the campaign said they would be shutting down the page while trying to figure out what to do with the surplus funds.

If you’re left wondering why a student newspaper without university control is important to the success of a collegiate journalism program, allow Boston University graduate Kyle Clauss, a reporter for the Lowell Sun, to explain:

When people ask how my classes at BU helped prepare me for my job, I tell them plainly, ‘They didn’t.’ I hold no illusions, however; I know I was hired at The Sun, in large part, on the prestige and reputation a BU journalism degree carries. That reputation is the FreeP‘s doing.