Well, it’s week 2 of daily publication at the ODE, and so far, I’m keeping on schedule with blogging. That’s a good sign, right?
This week, I want to expand on some topics I touched on last time about community journalism and being a student journalist, particularly in the context of presenting news for print versus the Web.
My first source of inspiration is a letter from The Dallas Morning News’ publisher to his staff on Oct. 1 about the newspaper’s place in an ever-changing media landscape. He provides a few recommendations of how newspapers will remain profitable, most notably:
- Adapting to the newest technology and consumer demands for news distribution
- Providing relevant and unique local content
- Analyzing the news for a specific audience
- Innovating how to monetize
- Figuring out this mobile thing
- Maintaining a sustainable base of journalists to do all this innovation and reporting
I agree wholeheartedly that this is where our focus should be. It’s important for student journalists to consider these issues because we’re the ones who are supposed to be experimenting and figuring out where everything is and might be going.
The most crucial things here are adapting to the newest forms of communication and creating a sustainable newsroom environment to be able to innovate. And that’s the crossroads we face right now at the Daily Emerald. As we’re trying to move forward with our online presence and our mobile sites, we’re facing difficulties because of our sheer lack of resources.
The DMN’s letter is quite similar to a Sept. 17 Student Newspaper Survival guide blog post by Rachel Kanigel, “College newspaper or college media organization?” that says college newspapers have to begin thinking about how their audiences consume media and cater to that by:
- Publishing content to the website first
- Posting website content every day
- Using a combination of visuals and text — any and all media – to tell stories
- Using social media to increase awareness of new content
For the past two years, the Emerald has been doing all of these things, but especially this year I’ve been making it the forefront of my thinking. The website-first mantra has been one of the biggest changes in our copy flow.
For the first time this year, we’ve starting writing Web headlines before print headlines and posting content to the website before it hits the print page. By making small changes like this to our process, I’m hoping to get the idea across that the Web is different than print both in presentation and how readers consume information. I’m not sure how many college papers do it this way, but with a staff of one news copy editor, one sports copy editor and one copy chief per night, it’s taking some stress off the desk, for sure.
The Student Newspaper Survival Guide blog basically sums up everything I’ve been trying to articulate about why it’s crucial for the Daily Emerald to differentiate between our print paper and online edition.
But there’s one thing missing. The post doesn’t touch on how college journalists are being taught about writing and journalism in their formal educations. There is a sort of rift between formal schools of journalism and college newspapers, between the theoretical and the practical — a divide has been fairly visible at the University of Oregon.
I don’t want to open this can of worms just yet, and I don’t want to discount the formal journalism education we receive. But I do want student journalists to think critically about their dual roles as students in formal journalism schools and members of college news organizations.
Because we’re not just newspaper journalists anymore. And until we figure out how to best deliver news and information to our audiences, we will be in a constant struggle to keep both our readers and our relevancy.