No excuses. File gamers online.

by

Our college news publication is no different than any other. Advertising has slowed considerably, causing the Daily Eastern News to reduce its pages to eight several days each week, a situation that rankled a few ambitious sports editors accustomed to filling three-plus pages a day.

A week ago, the associate sports editor told me they were going to file only a game story on the men’s basketball game. Stop thinking you’re just a print publication, I said. File a side bar online.

Yesterday, I asked why we had not covered a weekend track and field event. No space. Did I mention that online option? He gets it now. I hope. He’s a sharp kid who has helped develop a daily sports blog. Still, I wonder when college journalists (and some pros) will accept the print edition is just one of the ways we present news.

Most college newspapers will stop printing a daily paper edition sooner than later.

News print is not cheap, printing presses are even less cheap, and advertising is shrinking. I never took an accounting class, but even I can see this does not add up. For years, college papers were more insulated than professional newspapers. They had a captive audience and delivered news readers could not find anywhere else. That’s still the case. Only now, most of this news is delivered online, generating little revenue. In order to survive, college newspapers need to attract online advertisers — building ad locations, finding sponsors for podcasts and slide shows, and hiring innovative Web designers.

I have faith that news organizations and college publications will find a way to adapt. But only when students realize the challenges they face. If you are a non-daily in print, file game stories online. If you are a daily, file side bars and notes online, along with any other events that do not fit in print. Write compelling columns, file sports news in blogs and collected more audio after games. Be innovative in print as well. Develop a weekly sports publication that includes features, analysis, and previews.

The future is brighter (and more exciting) than many think, even if some newcomers are chafing at the new model.

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