The Campus Ledger cuts prints

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Just in time for its 40th birthday, The Campus Ledger at Johnson County Community College in Kansas is going under the knife – it’s cutting print.

When the paper returns in the fall, it won’t be paper, but it will be a new challenge for the students and staff involved.

Nell Gross, editor in chief, said the switch will probably make her life easier and will serve the readers better.

“It’s been difficult to split up my time between print and digital,” she said. “It’s a lot of work for such a small staff to do. And this is how most people our age get their news. How they are most likely to see it.”

Corbin Crable, the paper’s adviser, said he agrees.

“As a student publication, we must adapt to the ever-changing needs and demands of our audience,” he said. “Our research has shown that both our social media activity and web hits have increased in recent years, while print readership and advertising revenue continues to slowly decline.”

Crable said the transition has been in the works for three years, and has benefitted from converging with the radio and video groups on campus.

“We operate in a converged newsroom alongside our counterparts at the campus Internet radio station and the student-run video production outlet,” he said. “So even if a reporter couldn’t post a full article each day, or a photog couldn’t post a photo or gallery each day, we would at least help cross-promote our other media outlets by posting podcasts, video news packages, or full multimedia packages.”

Tips from Johnson County Community College

  1. This is certainly not a decision to be made hastily. Research other collegiate publications that have made the same move to become an exclusively online media outlet.
  2. Network with student editors and advisers who have made the leap and learn from them what worked and what didn’t.
  3. Survey your campus community to get a sense of what they truly want to see in your website and social media presence.

  4. Find out where your students live. If most live off campus or telecommute, a print edition might not be a good fit.
  5. Work with your existing and incoming staff members to carefully craft the changes in employee roles, schedules and workflow.
  6. Above all else, be patient as all involved get used to this new operation.

  7. Acknowledge and embrace the reality that mistakes will be made and that the transition won’t be flawless, but be proud of the fact that, in most cases, you’re operating in the best interests of your campus community and its media consumers.

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