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Coming off the page: Finances forces UW-Parkside's Ranger News into online-only format

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The Journal Times in Racine County, Wisc. reports that financial hardships at one local college newspaper forced its staff to think Web-first in a very big way.

The Ranger News, the weekly student newspaper for the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, has folded its print operation and now runs exclusively online.

The News’ editor in chief, Jo Kirst, said growing financial pressures — the paper spent $22,000 a year to print 30 issues — led the paper to cease printing.

Even in an era of mounting difficulties for newspapers, few collegiate papers have gone the route of The News and moved exclusively online.

From the Journal Times:

“It just got to be too expensive,” Kirst said.

The Ranger News‘ decision isn’t typical among college papers, Logan Aimone, executive director of the Associated Collegiate Press in Minneapolis.

“I’ve only heard of maybe two or three campuses that have done that, and in every case it’s because of budget,” Aimone said.

Kirst told the Journal Times that she misses “being covered in ink” and “smelling like newspaper.” Now the task for the paper is to re-direct its readers to its new Web site The Ranger News.com.

Though Kirst and her staff  had an unenviable studentmedia decision to make, freed money and time resources could allow the paper to reinvent itself in a big way, perhaps setting an example for other college papers who follow suit.

“Hopefully by the end of the semester we’ll be completely marketed on campus,” she said.

So what do you think about the The Ranger News’ online transformation? And how can it successfully market itself to move its readers online?