University Daily Kansan at KU Goes Digital-First, Shifting to Twice-Weekly Print Edition in Fall 2015

The University Daily Kansan is set to become a digital-first enterprise. Beginning in the fall, the student newspaper at the University of Kansas will focus more intently on “utilizing online resources” while shifting its print publishing schedule from four days per week to two. Amid the reinvention, however, the UDK editorial board confirms to readers, “We aren’t changing the news — just how you consume it.”

In an announcement, top editors broke down what they feel are the financial and editorial benefits of the shift: “We believe the money used to print and distribute Tuesday and Wednesday papers can be allocated more effectively in a way that will best benefit our readers. … While the production of the printed paper will be reduced by half, the Kansan will not cover only half the news. Without the stress and pressure of producing content for four print editions per week, the Kansan staff will focus its resources on breaking news, multimedia and online-exclusive content, as well as in-depth articles for the two print editions per week for news, arts and features, sports and opinion content.”

Kansan editors also attempted to assuage what they predicted would be the chief reader concern: “You’re probably wondering if anything is going to happen to the basketball posters, puzzles and free-for-alls. They aren’t going anywhere.”

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Emma LeGault is University Daily Kansan special projects editor.

Kansan special projects editor Emma LeGault graciously weighed in with a few candid thoughts about the implications of the switch and the staff’s initial reaction.

Prior to her current role, LeGault served the paper as a senior reporter, special sections editor, news editor and editor-in-chief. She is also a spring 2015 CMM Editorial Fellow.

As she tells me:

The response I’ve seen from former staffers is less than encouraging. Some are concerned we won’t have the valuable experience of working under pressure on deadline nights. Some doubt we’ll be able to keep up with the news in real time and be able to give it depth and context without the 110-year-old print product. Others are simply rooted in the tradition of a print newspaper.
“As a former editor-in-chief, I know this change is best for editors, reporters and Internet-dependent news consumers, but it doesn’t come without some turbulence. However, I expected former student journos — especially Kansan staffers — to be supportive of the Kansan’s move to be more flexible and innovative with our content and align with where our readers reach us.
“That response concerns me because I don’t think a student media outlet should ever continue something just because it has been doing it for a long time — that is not a good enough reason. We must constantly question our decisions and what we’re doing to push ourselves. Otherwise, we risk becoming obsolete and disconnected to our readers.
“I, for one, embrace the change at the Kansan and will let it serve as a reminder that journalism is constantly evolving, and, in the digital age, we journalists can no longer rely on what we have been doing for 110 or 126 years to keep us afloat.”
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