A Discussion About College Newspapers’ Present and Future

I recently gmail-chatted with Bryan Murley, the director of the Center for Innovation in College Media, about the good, bad, and ugly sides of the continued success of the college *print* newspaper specifically.   The discussion came at his request, partially as a follow-up to my recent posts about college print papers’ (at least temporary) invulnerability to the doom-and-gloom scenarios playing out at professional print newspapers.   


The beauty of the Internet: I was in an I-cafe in Phuket, Thailand.  Bryan was continuing his new media domination at Eastern Illinois University.



ICM Blog


ICM Discussion: print and college newspapers

Dan: My basic argument: A print newspaper death watch at the college level is either premature or inaccurate. The financial state of the student newspaper universe is “fundamentally sound,” according to a recent feature in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The papers also remain strong on the content side, producing influential, innovative work that is still being gobbled up in print by campus readers.


Is this a knock on new media or online student news outlets? Absolutely not. In many respects, the most creative, significant student journalism is taking place through new media and on the Web. Do I think the new voices are as influential as the old standby, the student newspaper? No, I do not. Do I think that the online versions of student newspapers are as influential as the print versions? No, in most cases, I do not. (Although there are obviously lots and lots of exceptions.)


Bryan: I think we basically agree that the print product on the college campus is “fundamentally sound” in terms of readership and advertising – for the time being. I am not quite as certain that the content on the print side is necessarily “innovative.” Influential, yes. The question of the online product is challenging, since so many newspapers are still basically repackaging print stories for online distribution. True innovation in online storytelling is only just developing.


In terms of “influence,” the online edition is obviously behind, although it has a greater potential for maximum impact because it can reach a much wider audience. There is a great economic incentive to focus on print to the detriment of online, and that hampers efforts to make the online side more influential on campus…


Click here to read the full transcript of our discussion

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