Collegian and campus collaboration
This week is National Newspaper Week. Think that’s silly? So does The Massachusetts Daily Collegian.
But quick search on Google News will show readers that newspapers – unsure about their future in the thick of an economic crisis and a digital revolution – are putting out some pretty self-congratulatory editorials on the subject. “Newspapers’ relevance has never waned,” “Keeping you informed” and “Informed? Thank your paper.” We agree, it’s pathetic.
In honor of National Newspaper Week, and for the record, we at The Collegian would like to say that we think information is a two-way street.
Until recent years, The Collegian was best metric for the daily life of University of Massachusetts students. With a staff of several hundred, we got more of what was happening on campus on the record than anyone else. But now all of us – all 18,000-plus undergraduates, not to mention the graduate students, faculty, staff and community members who read The Collegian – are interconnected on the web.
Collectively, a population of 18,000 is going to procure much more information than a few hundred student journalists, no matter how much coffee we consume.
Those who have been on campus for a while have likely noticed that the print edition of The Collegian has never been smaller. Waning print advertising revenue means that our paper – scratch that, your paper – is seldom printed larger than eight broadsheet pages Mondays through Thursdays and 16 tabloid pages for The Weekend Collegian.
Yet The Collegian as a newsgathering organization has never been bigger or more ubiquitous, and our readers have never had a larger role in our news production. The Collegian is not just in lecture halls and the Campus Center; it’s on readers’ Facebook newsfeeds, Twitter feeds and RSS feeds. What’s more, since the relaunch of DailyCollegian.com this September, we’ve made more money off our website than in all the years we’ve been on the web combined.
That’s not to say we’re immune to what’s happening to newspapers at large. We still have an outstanding loan from the Student Government Association, and advertisers are only going to become less interested in delivering their message in ink. Yet we made a profit last year. Many papers would like to say that. And we run a leaner, more streamlined organization than ever.
We also have access to one of the best sources of information out there: you.
In the spirit of the week, we’d like to make clear that we aren’t just a newspaper anymore. We’re a news operation and better for it. Newspapers don’t have much room for their readership to sound off, aside from a few column inches in the opinion section saved for letters to the editor. But you can comment on our stories on Facebook, or on DailyCollegian.com. You can submit your events to our calendar and tell us why you thought that music review sucked with just a few clicks of the mouse, and all while you’re in the back of that overstuffed lecture in Thompson Hall.
And we want you to. We need you to. We can’t cover this whole campus alone.
So tell us what you think. Tell us what you’re doing. Tell us what we’re doing right, and what we’re doing wrong. Because we need you more than you need us – this week and the next.
We don’t just want you to chime in digitally, either. Our senior editors are interested in meeting with members of the community who have suggestions and criticism for The Collegian. Leave a comment with your e-mail (which will be kept private) on this editorial on DailyCollegian.com, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and set up a time.
The future of this organization is bright, mostly because of what you can offer to it. Meanwhile, we aren’t throwing any parties this week.
Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of The Massachusetts Daily Collegian editorial board.