Lantern at Ohio State Making Major Print Cuts, ‘Evolving Into More of a Digital-First Product’

The Lantern student newspaper at Ohio State University will reduce its print presence in three major ways starting in the fall. The cutbacks are a response to decreases in print advertising revenue, a drop in reader pick-up rates and a declining educational focus on print newspaper work.

As Lantern editor-in-chief Liz Young reported yesterday, the paper’s most visible reduction will be to its print publishing schedule. Come fall, the pub will appear on and near OSU’s campus twice weekly instead of four times per week — with an extra edition printed each Friday before a Buckeyes home football game.

In addition, the size of each print issue will shrink slightly. And the number of printed copies for each edition will drop by more than 30 percent — from 14,000 to 9,000.

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Meanwhile, according to Young’s piece, the roughly 30 paid student staffers on the Lantern’s editorial and business sides will retain their positions. And the Lantern website will continue to be updated daily with gusto.

Bottom line, Lantern general manager Rick Szabrak says the outlet is “evolving into more of a digital-first product” — a move that will hopefully appease and benefit local advertisers and student journalists.

OSU School of Communication director Daniel McDonald: “The trick is we’re investing more and more into sort of alternative formats, which is really the way the industry is kind of going. I wish things were the way they were five to 10 years ago, but that’s not going to happen. For the students, they’re going to have a lot more opportunities to interact with different [formats]. … It’s going to make them more flexible.”

I’ve reached out to OSU’s student media director Dan Caterinicchia for more details on these upcoming changes.

Update: Caterinicchia was kind enough to respond. Here’s his take…

“The reduced print frequency is an unfortunate business reality. The Lantern editorial staff has been innovating for years in print and digitally, both of which I have no doubt will continue. In the last year alone, the students launched the new website, reformatted the email newsletter and redesigned the front page in print, while growing their online and social media audiences. I am excited to see what they come up with this year and curious to see how the various Lantern audiences (students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, local readers and businesses, etc.) respond to these changes.”

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