I’m not sure what to make of the news that some student newspapers are cutting print runs or cancelling issues altogether.
The newspaper industry is struggling across the board. An increasing number of people are getting their fix of news online (or not at all). Many who once read a daily paper now visit the website to get exactly the same news, albeit on a screen.
It’s no surprise that student papers are suffering too. However, the spring to online content can only be a good thing, surely?
Imagine a student newspaper running in the North of England. With an online version, the content is thrown out to the South of England. Better, it’s thrown out to the whole world. Trainee journalists and budding young writers could get a big break after being picked up from somewhere other than on their own campus.
There needs to be a way to claw back costs, but I believe there should be enough inspired ideas to get some money coming in. And considering that a reduced (or perhaps nonexistent) print run would save a lot of money, the amount of cash that needs clawing back should be greatly reduced.
I understand that some lucrative advertising deals are not allowed under current rules, which is a blow. But that shouldn’t mean the end of the world for published student journalism.
The game has been changing for a while now. Hard copy newspaper content has been suffering. However, there may come a point when a lot of free online content becomes premium. New choices may then need to be made.
Then again, the abundance of free content may continue and we could enjoy the ride for a while to come, as new forms of income are found. Everyone would be a winner…
While there is still uncertainty about the future (both online and off), it’s necessary to keep publishing one way or another, even if print runs aren’t available for now. A fresh approach can cover the ground that’s currently being lost. It’s not just about maintaining a website. There’s a chance to have pages on Facebook, connect through Twitter, put up video on YouTube and Vimeo, showcase local bands through podcasts and MP3 downloads, allow reader comments on articles, publish up-to-date opinion through blogs, and so on. It’s all to play for right now.
There are some fantastic student newspapers online right now. I hope that we see more universities putting their newspaper and magazine content firmly online to let the world see just how talented some of the future names in journalism truly are.
The Guardian Student Media Awards have a Website of the Year award, so there’s respect to be had. Past winners include Imperial [http://live.cgcu.net/], Southampton [http://www.wessexscene.co.uk], and Cardiff [http://www.gairrhydd.com/]. Worthy runner-up prizes have gone to the likes of York [http://www.nouse.co.uk/], University College Falmouth [http://www.bloc-online.com/], and Lancaster [http://scan.lusu.co.uk].