Last week The Oklahoma Daily published a story about scaling back its print edition during the summer to save money and revamp its website, OUDaily.com.
The article gave me an idea for a weekend story about how college newspapers are evolving and trying to find a model that will save money and possibly even turn a profit.
I interviewed Anne Richard, the associate director for student media at the University of Oklahoma, and she said the decision to scale back the print edition gives staff an opportunity to experiment with a new online service for its readers and advertising customers. It also saves the paper $300 per issue in printing costs, she said.
Daily Editor Chris Lusk, 27, said the digital initiative in the summer could help staff strengthen their online work flow. He said he’s been contacted by alumni about the decision and has explained to them how it could make The Daily a better paper.
“It’s really a move that we made with an eye on the future,” he said.
But Mark Thomas, executive vice president for the Oklahoma Press Association, said he disagrees and thinks the student publication is making a mistake by only focusing on web content.
“It’s not going to pay the bills,” Thomas said.
During a phone interview Thursday, Thomas said he thinks Joe Foote, dean of Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, shouldn’t have implied in The Daily article that print papers are going away.
“Good journalism shouldn’t go away even if the print newspaper does,” Foote was quoted as saying.
Thomas said hometown newspapers are evolving and thriving in certain communities. Some papers that have closed, such as The Rocky Mountain News, faltered because of management issues or competitors, he said.
And when it comes to advertising, Thomas said the main source of revenue for most newspapers still comes from a print product and cannot be matched online.
His final message to student journalists:
“I would tell them don’t forget about print newspapers, because that’s where you’re going to be able to get a job and actual salary.”
Agree? Disagree? Post your thoughts below.
And be sure to pick up a copy of The Oklahoman to read the full story this weekend or check it out online at NewsOK.com.