A Print Paper, Without the Printing Part: One Student Outlet’s Unique ‘Digital Transition’

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

One facet of the transition plan especially fascinated me: Staff are still planning to hold a traditional production night each week and lay out a print-style newspaper — and then not print it. They will email each issue to the campus community and upload it online as a PDF instead.

In last week’s edition of the College Media Podcast, I chewed over those details with Bryan Murley from the Center for Innovation in College Media.

The questions I can’t shake: Why take so much time out from a full-blown digital journalism push to do something print-based? And why do something print-based without the print benefits (greater exposure on campus, advertising revenue, etc.)?


College Reporter co-editor-in-chief Justin Kozloski was kind enough to share some answers. As he tells me:

“There were two main reasons we decided that it would be best to keep this remnant of our days of printing. The first is that our school lacks any form of a journalism major and our office setting is one of the only places where students can get communications and InDesign experience, not to mention the development of group dynamics that form during the production of the PDF.

“The second reason is that while college students are our main demographic, another large portion of our readership comes from parents and alumni who thoroughly enjoy the PDF layout and have made our Digital Newspaper one of the most hit pages other than our front page.

“All in all, while the PDF does not fit into the traditional ‘100 percent transition,’ our staff determined that it was the best way to serve the function we have always played on this campus — not only providing all student-run journalism to the campus and college community, but also giving students interested in journalism and communications relevant work experience in the form of training and group dynamic.”

What do you think?


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

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