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December 11, 2017

Friday Paper

Dear readers,

Three years ago, I chose to attend UMass because it printed a daily newspaper: The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. To me, the promise of fresh print in the morning and the opportunity to work for a daily were far more appealing than the “award winning” food in the dining commons, free entrance to Division I sporting events, the “small college feel” or any of the other things the admissions office tries to sell students on.

So it pains me to say that this is the last Friday paper. This is the last week the Collegian will be scheduled to print five days. This freshman class was the last one to have an opportunity to work for a true daily.

After months of debate, the newspaper’s executive board voted on Monday night to eliminate the Friday edition of the newspaper starting next semester. It was a split decision with both sides arguing their case passionately. But in the end, it all came down to math. Between the loan the newspaper has to pay off to the Student Government Association, the cost of printing and a decline in Friday’s advertising revenue, we just couldn’t afford to keep printing it in the long term.

The Collegian is not alone in this. In the last two weeks of May 2012, six

newspapers, citing financial strains, announced they would cut back their printing schedules.

The belief seems to be that newspapers are too expensive to print and that more people read news on the Web these days.

But society can’t afford for newspapers to stop printing. Newspapers sort and prioritize information in a way the Internet currently doesn’t. And beacons of new media like The Huffington Post give readers what they want, not what they need.

It’s a dangerous path, but one newspapers will continue to go down until readers and advertisers begin to support the industry again.

I hope one day the Collegian will be a daily newspaper again, and that another freshman will feel the same rush I did stepping into the newsroom. However, I think it’s unlikely to happen.

And for those of you who feel this pain as acutely as I do, I’m sorry I couldn’t save the paper, but know that I tried.


Katie Landeck, Editor in Chief

19 Responses to “Friday Paper”
  1. Nathan says:

    Not surprised. News is dead.

  2. Joe Meloni says:

    From a former member of the Executive Board, this is difficult news to handle. I certainly understand the motivation and the challenges you face. Despite the disappointment, please know that I speak for a handful of recent Collegian grads that support your decision entirely.

  3. Bob Loblaw says:

    The SGA Zionists killed another good thing

  4. Andrew says:

    The newspaper industry as a whole is dying a slow death because of the identity they have chosen for themselves. They failed to identify what people actually like about reading the morning paper and completely bungled joining the digital age. Perhaps it was the “tanker trying to turn in a canal” model, in which the institutional mores were simply too large to change direction with the necessary alacrity.

    I feel there is still a midpoint between the aggregators like Huffington and the stodgy hold outs like the Boston Globe. Why has no one figured out a tablet edition that reads up and down like the actual paper? The familiar layout with the ease of digital delivery would drive subscriptions and advertisers could hold on to the same column inch pricing model. If real time type content could be delivered in a time tested, customer approved format, wouldn’t that bridge the gap? Or am I a nutty idealist yelling at the wind to stop blowing?

  5. Kelli says:

    I never even saw a Friday paper on campus 🙁

  6. Brett says:

    It’s a different world, folks. I skim my hometown weekly. It pains me to say, however, that I otherwise can’t remember the last time I sat down and read a newspaper. Maybe if I got it delivered I would … but I don’t because I can get the news, as it develops, online.

    I’m a proud Collegian alum (1997-2000) and cherish the time spent in that office, and the people with whom I spent it. No matter how many days the Collegian is printed, may that always ALWAYS be a place for writers to convene, to report the news (no matter the form) and to develop their talent.

  7. Mike says:

    The Friday paper just was not as good as the rest of the week, and that might be because of the lack of insightful op-eds. That is what kept me coming back. The op-eds are usually way out there but well written and get their point across. I might not have agreed with any of them but they were nice to read.

  8. Kurt says:

    Andrew- The Globe offers a tablet edition of the actual paper.

  9. Nick Belanger says:

    As a former Editor-in-Chief I can understand how difficult this decision was to make. I can also understand the pressures the Collegian faces to remain independent, and financially solvent in a world where print media is dying. When my executive board made the decision to accept funding from the SGA we were attempting to correct years of poor financial decisions, and rapidly shrinking advertising revenue. What we didn’t know is that accepting money from the SGA would ultimately dictate the direction and the decision making of the Collegian’s executive board for years to come. In 2005-2008 while I served on the executive board the Collegian we managed to tread water… but deep down we all knew we were on a sinking ship. Our responsibility was to see the Collegian live on, so another generation of young journalists could have the same experience we had. I give so much credit to all those exec boards that have come and gone since I departed for keeping the Collegian afloat… Most of all I give Katie and her executive board credit for making the hardest decision of all… hopefully, this allows the Collegian to carry on for years to come.

  10. Jim Ganley says:

    As a member of the executive board in the mid 90s I participated in my share of difficult decisions. It is never easy, but as long as you keep the long term good of the paper, and your customers in mind, you will do what is right. I have spent the last 17 years working with the newspaper industry. Your challenges are no different than those being faced by newspapers across the country. What makes the Collegian different is that you have the fresh ideas and enthusiasm to innovate. It’s not about the customers and advertisers supporting you, it’s about you providing a service that meets the ever changing needs of your customers and advertisers. Keep looking for new ways to serve the campus community. Figure out how to make digital and social media work for you, and for your advertisers, look for new and creative revenue streams. Keep the new ideas flowing and the Collegian will not only weather this storm, you may just stumble upon new models that will help the rest of the industry in the long run. Good luck!

  11. Collegianites, I also came to UMass for two reasons: Giant library, daily paper. And like you I worked my ass off, often to the detriment of actual class assignments, covering the campus for four years. I unequivocally love newspapers, this one more than any other.

    But I was also part of a handful of editors that got this website off of a third-party, cookie-cutter platform and onto a self-hosted CMS so you could be in control of the product you put out online the same way you are in control of the daily paper.

    This is a pretty rare, pretty amazing thing you guys do every day: Cover the news and publish it yourself, without any editorial oversight from the University and supported entirely by ad revenue generated by a student sales staff. Many college papers have endowments, or are supported by fees. Many college newspapers don’t have the editorial independence you do.

    None of that changes just because you’re cutting the print schedule. You still have a responsibility to cover the campus all day, every day. You are still learning skills that are going to serve you well in what is still a difficult job market.

    I also sat on that editorial board and know the economic challenges you’re facing, so I don’t for a minute fault you for this decision. It’s one being made by major-market newspapers around the country.

    But let me tell you this: Do not use this as an excuse to take the weekend off. The news doesn’t stop because the presses stop, and you have the resources and the skills to cover it in words, pictures and sound on this website. Knock off the anti-Internet B.S. and tell stories however you see fit on the Web — the possibilities it offers you are infinite.

    I’m proud of you all. Keep covering the goddamn news. Also, I think I left my skateboard in the newsroom.

  12. Will says:

    Thank God that Andrew is on this.

  13. Dennis Vandal says:

    Buck up and look to the future!! Enroll in new media classes offered by the UMass Journalism Department and work hard to expand your web capabilities here. YOUR DEADLINE IS NOW!!

  14. Mike says:

    Why doesn’t the Collegian cut printing entirely and go online like HuffPo? Newspapers should be for the people, so go to where the people are.

  15. Ryan Benharris says:

    As a former Collegian Staffer I agree with basically all the sentiment posted above. A terribly tough decision, and one that strikes the hearts of everyone that ever had the privilege of passing through those doors. Regardless, to Ms. Landeck and the entire Executive Board, know that we support you in any decisions you have made and decisions you will continue to make. Your tenacity makes up proud. Please do not hesitate to ask alums for support (monetarily if necessary). There are thousands of us who are very willing to help in any way possible.

    Unquestionably my time at the Collegian helped shape very much of who I am as a person. Giving back when it is in need is a no-brainer.

  16. Steve Fox says:

    Nice letter and all these comments are quaint but really folks, turn the funeral music off. Listen to what Sean and Dennis are saying here.

    The Collegian is not dead or dying. A delivery form is changing. A business model is changing, but the journalism isn’t.


    Let me say again: NOT DEAD!

    The delivery forms have been changing for more than 15 years, so welcome to it. There is a huge opportunity online for The Collegian. But making it work requires outside-the-box thinking; entrepreneurial spirit; and a thirst to continue telling stories.

    You know what’s great about delivering stories online? You have no space constraints!!!

    But, there’s much, much more. Get your editors and reporters to take multimedia classes, learn web design, get familiar with social media and take advantage of the fact that you are no longer constricted by the daily nature of the newspaper product.

    This is an opportunity, not a funeral.

  17. Peter Foundas says:

    As a former business manager (03-04) and former editor in chief of the Collegian (04-05), I was acutely aware of the declining ad revenue and overall precarious financial position of the paper. I recall making very painful decisions during my tenure, and it comes as no surprise that Katie and the executive board were faced with this difficult decision.

    I am sure it was a heated debate for the board, and ultimately, the majority of the board voted for what they felt was best for the paper. The death of classifieds as well as declining dollars allocated to print advertising for all businesses are macro trends that have crippled the newspaper industry.

    The Collegian is an amazing journalistic endeavor for those looking to cultivate careers in the media. But it is more than that. It is a sophisticated business run by the students of the university. It is an artistic outlet. And it is an institution that fosters lasting friendships.

    The Collegian will live on, and with this decision, hopefully will be in a stronger position to confront the challenging business environment and to repel the outside forces seeking to influence the decision making process and content of the paper.

    Take solace in the fact that this decision was The Collegian’s decision. Independence was (and I hope still is) the thing that this paper most prided itself on. This decision is yet another exercise of that independence. No matter how controversial, The Collegian will move forward with its head held high.

  18. Dr. Ed Cutting says:

    The Collegian has been forced to eliminate 1/5 of its editions.
    At the same time, the Collegian insists on ignoring 1/5 of the student body — graduate students.
    Advertising revenue is just the end result of the collective perception of potential advertisers that their audience (a) reads a publication and thus (b) will see the advertisement that they pay to place in said publication.
    But the Collegian insists upon being an undergraduate-only paper — ignoring issues of interest to graduate students (and faculty), banning graduate students from any involvement with the paper, and totally ignoring a full fifth of the student body.
    Folks, it would be one thing to do this if you had enough people to get everything you needed done and enough money to pay all your bills — but you have neither — and haven’t had it for some time.
    I think the 1/5 and 1/5 figures are ironic — the Collegian is shy 1/5 of the resources it needs to be a daily paper while ignoring 1/5 of the student body. Hmmmm………

  19. M says:

    Ed, The Collegian does allow grad students to write…

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