industry news

Filling in the Gaps

College media wire service U-Wire has  been experiencing some glitches as of late.

Seattle University’s Spectator reported about a week ago that the service, which is free fuwireor college newspapers, temporarily suspended its print operations.  It’s Web site, which is currently down, stopped updating headlines and sending out daily news e-mails earlier this month. It’s Twitter feed hasn’t been updated since Oct. 9.

U-Wire is basically the student equivalent of the Associated Press, giving its more than 800 member publications access to reprint stories from other college media outlets.

The Spectator got this from U-Wire’s general manager, Tom Orr:

“U-Wire has temporarily suspended its print wire operations. The company is in the process of trying to get the wire relaunched as quickly as possible and when more information is available it will be made public.”

Here’s what Joe Weasel, co-founder and CEO of Palestra.net — U-Wire’s new owner, had to say about changes in the company during a March interview with College Media Matters:

“[W]e’re trying to find an outlet and find the mechanism whereby students can get even more engaged in not only print and text but digital journalism. We’re trying to get students as much exposure as possible…”

By now, we’ve all grown uncomfortably accustomed to hazy circumstances surrounding media companies in the midst of “difficulties.” While details are still scant, let’s hope most of their problems are indeed technical.

Otherwise, what does this mean for those more than 800 outlets who utilized U-Wire content? My take on it is as page counts continue to shrink, college outlets should become less reliant on wires like the AP and U-Wire to fill their pages.

Though at times necessary, wire content , often placed on pages for a “filler,”  is becoming increasingly less valuable to audiences who turn to college media for localized coverage that they can’t get anywhere else.  Outlets should turn to their staff to produce original content, rather than rely on U-Wire stories that may not be as worthwhile to readers.

So how does U-Wire fit into a more localized news equation? It look’s like we’ll have to wait and see.