Florida A&M Student Paper Drops Print Edition, Goes Online-Only

The Famuan student newspaper at Florida A&M University has dropped its print editionin favor of a continuously updated website.” The paper published twice weekly through fall semester, when it transitioned to a weekly.

The staff and faculty adviser proposed the online-only plan as a money-saving scheme. Ann Kimbrough, the dean of the university’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication, views it as a “pretty wise decision following industry practices of late – no matter how sad that is.”

As she tells the Tallahassee Democrat: “We have been trying to find ways to be profitable and reduce the budget and teach students how the industry operates. … Most students rely on their smartphones and other digital devices to consume news.”

The full-blown digital push places the paper among the forefront of collegemediatopia’s online-only efforts.


Interestingly, it is the second time in roughly a year the Famuan has made news for its lack of a print product — and a related digital push made in response.

In January 2013, near the start of spring semester, FAMU officials temporarily suspended publication of the Famuan. They also removed the paper’s faculty adviser without much explanation. And they forced the student staff to reapply for their positions and “undergo training in media law and ethics . . . [and] more general journalism principles.”

These actions were announced roughly a month after a student filed a lawsuit against the Famuan alleging defamation. The suit contended the paper mishandled a portion of its reporting about the November 2011 hazing death of a FAMU music student, an incident that placed the university in a harsh, prolonged national spotlight.


Fighting back against the administrative intervention – one they described as “ungrounded and arbitrary” – some Famuan staffers launched a short-lived “rogue website.” Ink and Fangs – a reference to journalism and the school’s rattlesnake mascot – aimed to fill the student journalists’ “insatiable need to produce news and inform and communicate with the public and FAMU.” As Karl Etters, the student in charge of Ink and Fangs, told me soon after its launch, “You know, it’s a ‘no paper, no problem’ kind of deal.”

Will the same deal hold true for this latest Famuan initiative?

Current EIC Nolan McCaskill: “There are a lot of opportunities with us being completely digital instead of having to put out a newspaper. With us going online we don’t have t spend too much time in the office. Being online also gives us a chance to take advantage of our digital platform.”


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‘No Paper, No Problem’: An Interview with Former (& Future) Famuan Editor Karl Etters

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