September 04, 2012

UPEI's Cadre is going online only

The Cadre will no longer come in a stackable format.
The Cadre, the campus newspaper at the University of Prince Edward Island, is moving online only. From their website:
In an ideal world, a student newspaper serves two purposes: it is an informative, entertaining document that covers the moments we experience between the first day of class and last class bash; and as a place where young writers can grow and develop their voice. We haven’t been accomplishing this.

Our monthly publication schedule hampers our ability to properly cover events. Our stories are long and broad and often come out two weeks after the fact. We’re going to be moving to a daily publishing schedule. Our content will be shorter and bloggier. Breaking news will be covered as it’s breaking. Bigger stories will get four to five posts from different angles, instead of one long, lumbering summary well after anyone cares. We’ll still do booze panels and stuff.

The rest after the jump.

The nitty gritty details, if you’re into that kind of thing: the paper is going to have five different sections, On-Campus, Off-Campus, National, Arts, and Entertainment and Sports. Each section will have a dedicated editor. Writers will be assigned to a certain section and work directly with their editors. Ideally, we’ll have ten writers at the start of the year that will do two posts a week, and we’ll publish around four posts a day. If we can get more writers then we’ll print even more. That would be rad.

This isn’t something we’re getting muscled into by the Student Union so they can save money or build more busses. This was our idea.

We know you’re going to miss the paper, but it doesn’t make sense to keep printing. There are too many issues left behind every month cluttering up hallways and lounges. We’ve looked into printing fewer issues, but our current 2000 issue order is the lowest the printer will let us go. The reality is that very few from our generation read the newspaper anymore. Or, they don’t read the newspaper on paper. Everyone reads The Guardian online for the comments, or the New York Times, or the Huffington Post, or Gawker, or Buzzfeed. We all read the news online.

We know it’s nice to pick up a paper and hold it in your hands, maybe even see your face on the page, but it also costs a ton of money to make that happen. And focusing our efforts on designing a newspaper and adjusting the photos for print and the headaches and time it takes to make this Godforsaken rag just isn’t worth it anymore. The kids who are currently going to this school, and the ones who will come to this school, are used to reading things online. We’re just joining the party.

The paper started in 1969. Letting go of more than thirty years of tradition is hard. “You’ve got roots like Pawnee,” said a guy I talked to about it. But from the very beginning we were the same smart, sarcastic, snarky, disenchanted jackasses we are now. Sounds a lot like your favorite websites, no? We were made for the Internet.

So long, newsprint— it’s been good to know you.

This is a big leap for a student paper to make — and likely a permanent one. Once you go online only for a few years, the expertise built up over the years for how to make a an ink-and-paper publication will dissipate.

It also cuts papers off from their biggest potential non-levy revenue source: print ads. The general consensus is that for every $7 lost in print ads, papers can gain $1 in online revenue.

There are also arguments to be made that most students read the campus newspaper casually — on the bus, while eating in the cafeteria, or any other instance their trying to kill time on campus. The readership for online tends to be different than your print readers, and a move to online only has the potential to make you invisible on campus.

Of course, there could be positive benefits to going tree-free. As The Cadre editorial staff points out, print takes a long time and a lot of work. People are reading more and more online and focusing exclusively on the web could help you build up new capacities, such as for video, multimedia and social media.

Personally I'm a bit pessimistic about moves like this for campus newspapers. But what do you think? Is this the wave of the future or the death knell for the only print campus publication in PEI?


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