via Nieman Lab:
When newspapers cut back on their print product it’s big news. When the New Orleans Times-Picayune — not to mention three other Newhouse newspapers in Alabama —announced it was reducing its print production to three days a week it was like the shot heard around the (journalism) world.
And yet, that same day up in Eugene, Ore., another paper announced it was pulling back to two days of print and made it sound like a triumph. The Daily Emerald has been publishing five days a week for over 90 years and now, like the handful of papers who have cut back on print before it, plans to beef up its web presence and find new digital ways to reach their readers.
The Daily Emerald is the student newspaper of the University of Oregon and it’s being noticed because of the digital first strategy it has been investing in out of innovation, rather than desperation.
Like most student papers, it is a nonprofit organization, but publisher Ryan Frank says the paper has just had its best financial year in over a decade, is carrying no debt, and has managed to generate a substantial reserve fund. So then why did the paper decide recently to stop printing every day — something it has done for almost a century — and become primarily a digital entity, with only two printed versions per week? As Frank describes it:
This isn’t about rebranding. This isn’t about ramping up revenue for our non-profit company … This is about delivering on our mission to serve our community and prepare our student staff for the professional world.
The print editions come out on Monday and the weekend, and both are more like weekly magazines than a newspaper.
The paper is directing most of its efforts to the Web and mobile: real-time news and community engagement through the website and through social media and new Web and mobile apps designed to offer things a printed paper can’t.
In addition, Franks says the newspaper (which doesn’t get a subsidy from the university) is launching an events division called Emerald Presents that will organize promotional and/or newsworthy events such as political debates, student music festivals and so on.
FJP: This is wonderful to hear. Back when I was editing my college news magazine, we made a similar switch to web-only, with an eco-friendly print subscription for the few who desired a hard copy. Granted we had a subsidy, but it’s nice to be part of the generation who can afford to jump into the web out of curiosity rather than desperation. Good going, Daily Emeralders!—Jihii