College newspapers cut publication days

Posted September 3, 2013

By Susan Hogan, Poynter Institute

At least three college newspapers announced this month that they’re going to cut their print schedules — the University of Illinois’ Daily Illini, the University of Missouri’s The Maneater and San Diego State University’s The Aztec. They join other college newspapers, including Duke University’s The Chronicle, that have been cutting back on their print editions.

The Daily Illini will publish four days a week instead of five as a cost-cutting measure, editor-in-chief Darshan Patel told the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette. Digital technology also played into the decision. “What we noticed on our website and now on the mobile site is that more students go to that than pick up our papers,” Patel said.

The Maneater, Mizzou’s independent newspaper, will publish once a week instead of twice a week. Editor-in-chief Ted Noelker said in a phone interview that the move is being made to free up staff to expand digital operations.

“Before all of our copy editors were centered on print operations and not available for breaking online news,” he said. “We’re redefining ourselves as a publication and not just a newspaper.”

The Maneater focuses on campus news, while Mizzou-affiliated The Missourian remains a community newspaper managed by professional journalists and staffed by journalism students. The Missourian cut its print frequency from seven to five days a week in 2009.

“We’ve been digital-first for some time,” Missourian Executive Editor Tom Warhover said by phone. He worked for several years at the Virginian-Pilot before joining Mizzou’s faculty. “We’re not talking about any more changes to the print operation right now.”

At San Diego State University, The Daily Aztec is rebranding itself as “The Aztec” and cutting newspaper publication from four days a week to two, according to a post by Innovation in College Media’s Bryan Murley.

At the same time, the newspaper plans to launch a Spanish-language section, Mundo Azteca, which managing editor Arturo Garcia hopes will one day be a stand-alone paper, KRWG reports. Spanish-language stories already appear on the publication’s website.

Logan Aimone, former executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association, which included oversight of the Associated Collegiate Press, said technology’s impact on college newspapers is hard to measure.

“We can’t quantify the impact of the changing times on college newspapers in the same way as community newspapers,” Aimone said in a phone interview. “We know that advertisers aren’t pursing college newspapers like they once did, yet print is still where the money is made.”