industry news

#CollegeJourn wrap-up: Money and strikes

For those of you who couldn’t make it to Sunday’s #collegejourn chat, this is how it went down (or read the full transcript):

Hour one: College newspapers face weak ad revenue. Solutions?

USA Today wrote an article about the “all-too-real-world-lesson” that college newspaper revenue decline is finally catching up with the professional world (although, it should be noted, Bryan Murley wrote a thorough post about this very topic long before USA Today).

Since the start of the current school year, daily newspapers at schools including Syracuse University, New York University, the University of California-Berkeley, Ball State and Boston University have cut one edition a week — usually Friday’s — because of weak advertising.

Questions posed to the chat: How is your school doing? How do we adjust?

Anthony Pesce of the Daily Bruin said: We’ve had drastic decreases in our travel budgets, staff stipend budget, equipment budget, etc over the past few years

Will Sommer: My paper isn’t independent, and we never had much of a budget to start with, so we’re a lot better off than independent papers. That said, our ads are really down–so much so that our printer’s broken and we can’t afford a replacement

Hour one subtopic: iPhones

The advantage college publications have over the professional market is that students still pick up a paper out of convenience. But iPhones are changing that. Quickly.

The logical next step for newspapers (both college and professional) is to make money off effective iPhone applications. They key to a successful iPhone app is that it won’t merely repurpose web content using RSS feeds, but provide extra value.

Anthony Pesce said his staff is working on an iPhone app that would include location-specific content, classifieds, and other content like professor reviews, although it’s still a way into the future.

Hour two: Why the Oregon Daily Emerald went on strike

The news staff of University of Oregon’s student newspaper went on strike March 4 after alum Steven A. Smith was hired to draft a strategic plan for the publication — including creation of a supervisory “publisher” position, which the staff believed would pressure editors into waiving control of the paper.

Questions posed to the chat: What would you do in the same situation? What can we learn from the strike?

Daniel Bachhuber wrote a post in response to the strike and — unlike the dozens of other newspapers who signed a letter in favor of the Emerald’s editorial independence — he said the staff’s actions were unwarranted and hindered the paper’s ability to reinvent itself.

Other thoughts about the strike:

  • Strikes are irrelevant and unnecessary with the ease of publishing thanks to the Internet.
  • Strikes are counter productive; students don’t need to do a “strike” anymore, but route around the “official” outlet (i.e. start a blog that administrators can’t control)
  • It’s hard to judge the situation without knowing the personality conflicts going on behind the scenes

The chat takes place among educators, professionals and students every Sunday 5-8 p.m. PST at collegejourn.com. If you have topic ideas for next week, direct message Suzanne Yada at twitter.com/suzanneyada.