The death of print has been touted for years now as more and more publications go online to keep readers. College student newspapers have been somewhat immune to this trend—up until now.
Recently newspapers on campus are also creating Web presences in order to stay vital. So is print dead in academia, too?
Student newspapers go online
More than just a source for campus comings and goings, the college student newspapers have often served as a proving ground for future journalists. As journalism in the real world has been changing, it appears that change is finally coming on campus as well.
In “College papers cut back on print,” for USAToday, on April 27, 2014, Roger Yu wrote, “Once thought to be more immune to the fallout in print advertising than local dailies, college newsrooms are increasingly cutting back on print schedules or ditching print altogether, while maintaining real-time news operations online.”
According to the article, many prominent university daily student newspapers have reduced their printings from once a day to once a week, while increasing their Web presence. Like newspapers off campus, student publications have been hit with drops in advertising and increasing print costs. On top of that, universities are tightening funding, and students are increasingly interested in putting their digital skills to use, leaving many thinking the death of print continues.
Go online. Save money?
Many believe, both on campus and off, that creating a Web presence for newspapers saves money. But Daniel Reimold interviewed Kevin Schwartz for “Student newspapers move to mobile as interest in print wanes” for poynter.org on April 10, 2014, who argued the opposite. Schwartz, the former general manager of The University of North Carolina’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, still believes that the best way for college student newspapers to make money is through print.
Schwartz says that unless a university is willing to provide all the funding for student newspapers, it just doesn’t make sense to go online exclusively. “But why trash the thing until advertisers are actually telling us they want digital alternatives?” he told Reimold.
In fact, he uses his former paper as an example, saying that print ads for The Daily Tar Heel brought in about $1.18 million last year, and digital only about $165,000. Those numbers would indicate that those saying print is dead, at least on campus, may be speaking too soon.
Creating a Web presence
No matter which side of the “Is print dead?” argument you come down on, understanding how to produce digital content is good knowledge to have. Bryan Murley blogged on August 11, 2009, for pbs.org “Why Do Some College Newspapers Still Have No Web Presence?” to give schools guidance on how to go online.
He finds that for college student newspapers with limited funds there are “two fine weblog publishing platforms (out of many) which can provide a college newspaper with a place to put content online: Blogger and WordPress.com.”
Beyond the ease of creating online newspapers for colleges, Murley believes that universities are hurting students by not allowing them to engage in creating on campus media on the Internet. “A college that will not allow their student journalists to practice online journalism in a “real world” setting is abandoning its commitment to education in order to save face. And that is a tragedy not only for the college, but for the students who look to higher education to prepare them for the future.”
Does your school still produce a daily print newspaper? And if they do, do you read it regularly? Let us know in the comments below.