Student Newspapers 2.0: ‘Welcome to a Media Revolution’

The Red & Black, one of the largest and most-feted college newspapers in the country, recently dropped a bombshell on its readers and the student journalism community.

In a wraparound section of a special issue published on the first day of the new school year, the University of Georgia student newspaper revealed it will be switching from a daily to a weekly print edition.

According to Ed Morales, Red & Black‘s editorial adviser, staff are simultaneously rolling out a digital-first workflow and publishing philosophy. The publication’s website will now be the “main arm for delivering the news of UGA to the masses.”

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Front page of the explanatory wraparound

In his announcement message on a popular college media advisers’ list-serv, Morales dubbed the whole shebang Red & Black 2.0.

To be clear, this is a huge move within college media. In recent years, some daily campus newspapers have dropped Friday editions and a few smaller papers have gone online-only due to tough economic times. But this is by far the most proactive, high-profile student newspaper shift away from print.

As the paper explained on the front page of its introductory wraparound, “Forget everything you’ve ever thought about newspapers, because we’re redefining how it works. Think a breaking news operation, run by the generation which grew up with computers, cell phones and iPods.” Or as it told readers more simply online: “Welcome to a media revolution.”

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Front page of the first issue of the new weekly

REASONS FOR THE REVOLUTION

The Red & Black is a major player within college media, acclaimed for its reporting and new media work. Last year, the paper earned Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker awards (the student press equivalent of the Pulitzer) in both the Newspaper and Online categories.

And so the suddenness and boldness of the newspaper’s digital shift has left many in student journalism circles curious about its root causes. In an interview, Morales outlined three main reasons for the Red & Black revolution.

1) Educational, Not Financial. “Our publisher Harry Montevideo was asked by our board of directors to look into how to keep the Red & Black viable within the shifting dynamics of this business,” he said. “Financially, we’re not in trouble at all. But educationally, our mission is to prepare students for the next level of journalism. And the next level of journalism is digital first. That’s the way it is. We wanted to see if there was a way to get the students to focus on the Internet, on the website, in a way they haven’t before. A daily print paper pretty much ties them into doing that daily miracle, as we call it, every day. If you take that away, they will be more inclined to think about the daily breaking news cycle on its own merits, instead of how they’re going to make it fit the space.”

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2) Little Computer Competition. “Students don’t pick up newspapers as much as they used to because a lot of them get their news from the little computers in front of them– their smartphones, laptops or tablet PCs. Like a lot of other college newspapers, we’re having people just not pick up every paper like they used to. Ten years ago, you’d put the paper out and there wouldn’t be any left by noon. Now, we’d have papers to pick up at the end of the day. So we were spending a lot of money to put out papers people weren’t picking up, quite frankly.”

3) The Good Stuff. “We want to make sure the product we put out is strong and meaningful. With the daily paper, you have to fill it, no matter what. We don’t have wire copy. We feel it’s filler. We’d rather have our own news. But there were some days we were putting stuff in the paper that didn’t deserve to be there. And I think a lot of students understood we were suffering from quality because we had to fill space … We want to have the opportunity to put only the good stuff in, always.”

To Read the Rest, Click Here or on the Screenshot Below.

Comments
4 Responses to “Student Newspapers 2.0: ‘Welcome to a Media Revolution’”
  1. GroupTable says:

    I’ve very surprised that this hasn’t happened sooner with everyone so engaged in the web 2.0 revolution. I think soon many will follow in their footsteps in creating online newspapers. It’s true that people aren’t as likely to pick up a newspaper compared to a phone or laptop to read news or find information.

    Rebecca

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