Oklahoma Daily *Will* Appear in Print All Summer– Against Editor’s Wishes

Oklahoma Daily readers are apparently still passionate about print.  Their recent complaints about an upcoming online-only experiment have prompted Oklahoma University administrators to front the paper an extra $4,000, dependent on its decision to appear in print throughout July.

As I previously posted, the OU student newspaper had planned to drop its print editions for a portion of the summer.  It was billed as the first step in a yearlong process aimed at determining what the Daily 2.0 should look like, how it should operate, and where print fits in.  It was also aimed at saving some money, since the typical summer ad drop apparently makes printing each week a money-losing pursuit.

But this online-only step has now been shelved.  As OU Daily editor-in-chief Chris Lusk tweeted me yesterday, “Whoops.  Never mind the earlier decision.”

It seems “a significant number of people” kicked up a fuss upon hearing the Daily would briefly stop appearing on newsstands.  Administrators responded with an influx of cash.  And the paper has agreed to remain in print all summer long.

Lusk isn’t happy about the reversal.  In a Daily piece outlining the change-back, he said the supposedly “significant” complaints about the digital experiment never made their way to him or other staffers.

As he explained, “You know, the department’s financial concerns were only one small reason why the idea to cancel the summer paper gained traction– at least with me, anyway.  It just seems like we’re being paid off to change our minds just because a few people didn’t like the idea. . . . I think there’s great value in the print product, but I thought this was a perfect time to really go away from that and test what we’re doing– not just inside the newsroom and how we approach our coverage but the entire department.  I think that’s what’s being missed in this sudden move to reverse our decision.”

My Take: I side with Lusk.  There was more to this planned experiment than financial considerations.  Online-only and digital-first shifts are happening, fast.  Preparation, practice, and a true day-to-day understanding of what it will mean for student newsrooms is needed.  The quiet summer months are the perfect time to seek this understanding.  Who was truly complaining?  And are they the people the paper is most ardently aiming to serve?

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