FreeP Going Digital-First: ‘Pressure to Keep Up with Times? Just a Much-Needed Reinvention?’

The FreeP is going digital-first. Yes, The Daily Free Press, Boston University’s high-profile student newspaper — also known as the FreeP and the DFP — is shedding its daily ink-stained presence in favor of a weekly print edition and an all-in online endeavor.

According to Alex Nawar, the chairman of the paper’s board of directors, this evolution is meant to provide “financial security” and “mark the beginning of a more responsive DFP staff.”

In a news release yesterday, Nawar shared some barebones details about the “new business model” with BU peeps and college media geeks everywhere:

“Beginning this fall, we will publish content throughout the day on a new, redesigned website, which will launch this summer. More than a news website, will serve as a virtual space for the Boston University community to gather and connect. Less preoccupied with the pressures and constraints of daily print publication, our staff will have the opportunity to expend their time and energy on breaking news, investigative reporting, in-depth features and vivid multimedia. In this way, our name will continue to reflect our daily online content, as well as the long hours our staff spends every day to bring you timely stories.”


Reacting to the announcement, Beantown news site BostInno offered an immediate positive assessment: “The decision is a smart one — coming at a time when legacy Boston brands are rethinking how they distribute and share content.

More college media outlets are also rethinking the content formation and distribution game. As I’ve previously posted, advisers, educators and student journalists are currently witnessing or participating in the biggest shift in college media since campus newspapers appeared in modern form in the mid-to-late 1800s.

A growing number of student pubs are cutting or considering cutting the number of print editions they publish each week or month. Others are trimming their page sizes or reducing the number of copies or pages produced for each issue. Still others are experimenting with magazine editions, special issues, new sections, non-content revenue streams, social media schemes, mobile apps and web overhauls. A few papers have dropped print entirely, opting to reboot as online-only outlets.

Most recently, The Columbia Daily Spectator at Columbia University announced its intentions to become “web-first” and publish weekly in print starting in the fall. The 137-year-old pub is the first student newspaper at an Ivy League school to abandon its daily print presence.

Come fall, the FreeP will join them in this increasingly popular weekly print universe.

The online news outlet BDCwire: “While the statement [from Nawar] doesn’t explicitly address the publication’s reasons for switching to primarily digital, one can pretty easily take a gander and say that it’s maybe because college kids don’t read newspapers all that much. … Perhaps the FreeP is feeling a bit of pressure to keep up with the times? Maybe it’s just a much-needed reinvention? Regardless, the publication will carry on, but in a new format and a fresh vision.”


Columbia Spectator Shifting to Weekly in Print, First Student Paper in Ivy League to Drop Daily

O’Colly Reinvention at OK State is Part of Biggest Shift in College Media in a Century

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