College Papers Not Immune to Economic Doom and Gloom

As I wrote in early October, “The story of the student press so far this semester: The existence of the first sustained crack in college print papers’ seeming invincibility to the online takeover and economic downturn.”

 

Since then, the economy has continued to collapse faster than Amy Winehouse’s career, prompting an unprecedented ad-revenue slowdown and a cost-cutting mentality at some student papers nationwide, according to a new Daily Princetonian report.

 

With the “bottom dropping out of the economy,” as the business manager of The Daily Pennsylvanian put it, the biggest disappearance from the ad blitz of times past’ has been financial and consulting companies, who typically place advertisements in papers prior to appearing on campus to recruit students.  Stanford Daily business manager and COO: “There’s a huge gap between last fall and this fall.  Last fall we had all these recruiters for advertising.”

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Examples of cutbacks that papers have instituted or are considering due to the ad gaps: The Daily Northwestern is publishing “smaller papers with fewer pages because we don’t have advertising revenue to support our editorial news hole”; and The Indiana Daily Student is “looking at ways to economize in every area,” including staff pay rates and the paper’s travel budget.

 

Interestingly, The Daily Tar Heel continues to be a voice of optimism.  The DTH general manager notes that increased political advertising from the recent campaign season and current reader interest in men’s basketball puts the paper in “a unique position here to do better than some of our buddies.”  This echoes earlier statements about the paper’s financial robustness.

 

Aside from the DTH, is college papers’ current pessimism a sign that the end is growing ever-nearer for their print news products?  As I’ve stated before, I don’t think so.  This latest report and the in-the-red reality it presents for some papers is simply proof that college newspapers are not immune from the economic doom and gloom.  When an Obama-fied economy (hopefully) bounces back, the financial companies’ recruiting efforts and related ads will return, something The New York Times notes this morning is in the recruiters’ best interests.  And in turn, hopefully student papers’ ad-revenue stream will return to the black.

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  1. […] (or just less bleak?) than their professional counterparts.  As I first wrote back in October (and again in November and again…), the once-indomitable economic spirit of collegemediatopia has cracked as of late […]