Franklin & Marshall Student Newspaper Now Online-Only; 2nd Paper to Drop Print in 2014

The College Reporter, the student newspaper at Pennsylvania’s Franklin & Marshall College, has dropped its weekly print edition and moving forward will produce content exclusively for its website. The shift, announced earlier this month, is the culmination of a three-year “100-percent digital transition” plan spearheaded by past editors of the paper.

Interestingly, an issue of the Reporter will still be produced each Monday night during the semester in traditional print-page style — just without the printing and next-day physical distribution. In its place will be PDF and email.

As editors explain in a note to readers:

“This transition will involve much of what we were already doing: we will continue to write, edit and lay out our articles as we always have, but instead of printing on physical paper we will upload an electronic PDF to our website. We will also be posting articles on our website. This content will be distributed weekly just like the regular paper, but instead of picking up the newspaper at a few locations on campus, students and faculty can find the newspaper in their email inboxes.”

1

In the note and a separate news release posted on the college website, three main reasons are cited for the “100-percent digital transition”: 1) Growing financial concerns tied to decreased advertising and subscription revenue. 2) Interest in becoming a more “environmentally sustainable” news outlet and lessening the paper’s “carbon footprint.” 3) A desire to “keep readers who increasingly were finding their news online.”

Current co-editor-in-chief Sloane Markley: “This is not a temporary fix. We had an outdated platform for business and for our primary audience, which is college students who read everything online.”

The Reporter joins The Famuan at Florida A&M University as the second student newspaper to go online-only so far in 2014. They join an ever-increasing herd of student pubs abandoning print in some form — including outlets cutting the number of print editions they regularly publish and reducing page counts and page sizes.

My Take: I find one detail in this transition plan especially fascinating. As mentioned above, The College Reporter staff will stick with their traditional weekly production night, assemble content by that night’s deadline and lay out a traditional newspaper … and then not print it — emailing it to the campus community and uploading it to their website as a PDF instead.

I am NOT criticizing, just trying to wrap my head around this. Why go through all the trouble of doing things the traditional way only to deliver it in a digital way? Students are more keen to read a PDF they’ll have to constantly scroll through and size-adjust than a physical paper copy? Wouldn’t a true “100-percent digital transition” steer clear of such embedded print-based routines, deadlines and design schemes? It just seems like a whole lot of print work — without the essential print payoff. I almost want to race over there next Monday night and secretly print the thing out! :) (I’ll need help delivering.)

I’m sure I’m missing something.  I’ve reached out to the editors-in-chief for comment.

Related

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

Starting Next Fall, Daily Nebraskan Will Shift to Twice-Weekly Nebraskan in Print

Comments
One Response to “Franklin & Marshall Student Newspaper Now Online-Only; 2nd Paper to Drop Print in 2014”
  1. Bryan Murley says:

    I find one detail in this transition plan especially fascinating. As mentioned above, The College Reporter staff will stick with their traditional weekly production night, assemble content by that night’s deadline and lay out a traditional newspaper … and then not print it — emailing it to the campus community and uploading it to their website as a PDF instead.

    Okay, I’ll criticize. That makes no sense at all from a digital standpoint.