The editor of the Cal State Long Beach Daily 49er is not happy with news that his paper may scrap the print edition and go online only. It hasn’t happened just yet — according to a story in their Monday paper, the dean of the college that oversees the paper wants to study the feasibility of going online only and such a change wouldn’t happen for at least another year.
That could mean no more print newspaper Monday through Thursday. That could mean no more grabbing the paper to read from class to class. That could mean no more cutting out noteworthy clips or sharing them with those on the other side of the great Digital Divide.
Or, worse yet, that could mean no more using the Daily Forty-Niner as a cover on those rare Southern California rainy days. Tell me which website can do that for you.
But, all lame jokes aside, I don’t think I need to elaborate much on the importance of a daily, student-run campus newspaper of record for this campus, which, by the way, has a population greater than many cities and is the third largest in the state.
There’s a little saying that proliferates this campus nowadays. It hangs from light posts like some kind of Beach Pride propaganda.
It says we’re “Among the Nation’s Best.”
Does a university that’s “Among the Nation’s Best” turn its back to one of its oldest traditions? Does it stomp on its chronicler of campus history that also serves as the starting point for its students’ futures?
Does the university want to be the only major American university without a daily college newspaper? Does it want to take the “paper” out of newspaper?
I feel for the guy. I really do. If I were in the position he is in now, I’d be pretty upset myself. One of the cool things about being a student journalist was having that tangible, ink-staining newspaper in your hands, made up of your hard work.
But I’m not sure if he should have such a hissy fit. There are a lot of newspapers out there having problems. Newspapers are cutting back. Some are in danger of being closed. Times are tough. And while it is an unfortunate state of affairs, you gotta take the lemons and make lemonade.
Plus, how do students feel about the prospect of having an online-only paper? It seems the reaction story published today only quoted staffers from other college papers and college officials. Do the students even care? Would they rather it be online only? Would that mean they wouldn’t read the paper at all? Or would they read it more, since its online and easier to surf/email/IM/read on their phones?
I’m not sure. I guess these are questions that will only be answered after the study. But in all honesty, I don’t think it will go online only. I believe for a student newspaper, a hybrid of the two¬† — possibly a smaller, maybe tabloid? version of the paper on a possibly weekly basis? — would be a better idea, along with a robust online presence would be good. After all, students still need to learn newspaper design. And with the prospect of having support for an online product, the possibilities are endless.